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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07COLOMBO1526
2007-11-08 11:33:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Colombo
Cable title:  

SRI LANKA: GSL HELPED KARUNA ENTER UK ON FALSE

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  PTER  PHUM  MOPS  CVIS  CE 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 001526 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INS AND CA/FPP
LONDON FOR POL - R BELL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/18/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER PHUM MOPS CVIS CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA: GSL HELPED KARUNA ENTER UK ON FALSE
DIPLOMATIC PASSPORT

REF: COLOMBO 1408

Classified By: Ambassador Robert O. Blake, Jr., for reasons 1.4(b,d).



1. (C) SUMMARY: UK High Commissioner Dominic Chilcott
briefed Co-Chair Ambassadors on November 7 on the arrest of
TMVP leader Karuna Amman for entering the UK on a false Sri
Lankan diplomatic passport. Chilcott said there is no
question that the GSL, with high-level authorization,
knowingly issued a valid diplomatic passport to Karuna in a
false identity. The UK government is weighing its options for
dealing with Karuna, Chilcott said, and it is possible that
he will be tried rather than simply released or deported to
Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, Karuna's leadership rival Pillayan has
been consolidating his position in the Karuna bastion of
Batticaloa. Karuna's arrest and the revelation of the GSL's
involvement in his illegal entry to the UK effectively
removes any doubt about the close relationship between GSL
security forces and the Karuna group. End Summary.



2. (C) UK High Commissioner Dominic Chilcott briefed
Co-Chair Ambassadors on November 7 on the arrest of TMVP
leader Karuna Amman last week for entering the UK illegally.
Karuna entered the UK in September on a Sri Lankan diplomatic
passport in the Sinhalese name of "Kokila Gunawardena" but
with Karuna's photograph, he said. Gunawardena appears to
have been a Sri Lankan soldier who was killed a few months
ago. Karuna's visa application was accompanied by a
diplomatic note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs asking
that Gunawardena be issued a visa to attend a climate change
conference in the UK.



3. (C) Chilcott said there was no question that the GSL,
with high-level authorization, knowingly issued a valid
diplomatic passport to Karuna in the false identity. This
follows earlier, unsuccessful efforts by the GSL to persuade
the UK to offer sanctuary to Karuna, he noted. Chilcott
stated that he has raised this issue with Foreign Secretary
Palitha Kohona since Karuna's arrest on November 2. The
local press reports that Karuna was accompanied to planeside
at Bandaranaike International Airport on September 18 by
Airport and Aviation Deputy Chief Shalitha Wijesundera (who
has refused to comment). Kohona publicly denied that the MFA
would have recommended Karuna for a UK visa - but pointedly
declined to deny that MFA had put forward the visa request
under the name Gunawardena.



4. (C) Chilcott observed that the British Government has
four options for dealing with Karuna. The UK can prosecute
him for illegal entry, grant him political asylum (which
Karuna has applied for), prosecute him in the UK for torture
committed in Sri Lanka, or release him and send him back to
SriLanka. Under British law, UN conventions on torture
provide grounds for trying him in the UK, Chilcott said. He
apparently cannot be tried for war crimes committed outside
the UK. Chilcott noted that Karuna's arrest has yet to
generate significant political or media attention in the UK.
He thought it possible, if not likely, that the UK's
overburdened judicial system will decide to release him.
However, he indicated that recent pressure from human rights
groups, including Human Rights Watch, has made it somewhat
more likely that Karuna will be tried on some charge.



5. (SBU) Meanwhile, rival TMVP leader Pillayan has been
consolidating his position in the Batticaloa area, Karuna's
support base. Local news reports over the last few days
indicate that Pillayan, probably in response to news of
Karuna's arrest in London, has stepped up efforts to take
over TMVP offices in and around Batticaloa. TMVP cadre loyal
to Karuna are being chased out of their offices, and there
are reports that at least one took cyanide when confronted by

COLOMBO 00001526 002 OF 002


Pillayan's men. TMVP spokesperson Azath Moulana has explained
the events in Batticaloa as "shifts in administrative teams
in the east." Tamilnet reports that Special Task Force
police officers have been deployed in the area.



6. (C) COMMENT: Karuna's arrest and the subsequent
revelation of the GSL's involvement in his illegal entry to
the UK should remove any lingering doubts about the
relationship between GSL security forces, Karuna, and the
TMVP. It is unlikely that Pillayan could be making such
gains, particularly in Batticaloa where support for Karuna is
strongest, without GSL acquiescence. The GSL probably
calculates that it can use Pillayan to help reinforce the
East, particularly the Trincomalee area where Pillayan has
the most support, against the reported reinfiltration of the
area by LTTE cadres. Karuna's immigration problems, the
GSL's involvement, and the UK's reaction will undoubtedly
burden UK-Sri Lankan relations in the medium term. Post will
closely monitor the issue and report any further
developments. Post would also welcome Embassy London's
perspective.
BLAKE