New Tiger leader grilled

War on LTTE: Pathmanathan was arrested in Kuala Lumpur

In this undated photo released by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, their new leader Selvarasa Pathmanathan is shown at an undisclosed place. Sri Lankan authorities questioned Pathmanathan Friday, Aug. 7, 2009 after he was arrested in Southeast Asia and flown to this island nation. Pathmanathan, the insurgent group's former chief arms smuggler, assumed the leadership of the Tamil Tigers after government forces routed the rebels in May in northern Sri Lanka and killed their revered leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran. (AP Photo/Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, HO)

“Pathmanathan is in Sri Lanka and he will be questioned for international links of the LTTE,” Military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara said.

The 54-year-old Pathmanathan, who had been named by slain LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran as the new head of the LTTE, was bought back to Sri Lanka late on Thursday via Bangkok and was being questioned, officials said.

Better known as ‘KP’, Pathmanathan is known to be an arms dealer and is on the wanted list of the Interpol on gun-running charges.

In a statement put on its website, the Sri Lankan defence ministry said Pathmanathan “had been taken into custody by the Sri Lankan law enforcing authorities”.

Pathmanathan was appointed international representative of the Tamil Tigers, as they made their last stand on the beaches of Killinochi, where Sri Lankan forces overran them.
He was the Tamil leader who announced the death of LTTE supremo Prabhakaran and later proclaimed himself as the head of the Tamil Tigers.

Earlier reports had said that Pathmanathan had been arrested in the Thai capital Bangkok. However, the Thai government spokesman said Pathmanathan was arrested in Kuala Lumpur and flown to Colombo via Bangkok.

“The Thai government wants to reaffirm that KP is not in Thailand nor was he arrested in Thailand, although he did visit the country,” a Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said.

The arrest of Pathmanathan in Malaysia was acknowledged by the Tamil Tigers who said he had been handed over to the Sri Lankan authorities.

Soon after taking over as LTTE chief, Pathmanathan had said he would use non-violent means to seek the rights of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake told Parliament on Thursday that the authorities would not allow terrorism to take shape again in the Tamil-dominated northern areas.

The announcement of Pathmanathan arrest comes amid reports of differences cropping up among the LTTE remnant leaders who are based abroad. It was also not clear whether the huge Tamil diaspora backed Pathmanathan.

According to reports, KP was entangled in a fight with the US-based LTTE activists for the LTTE assets worth billions of US dollars, after Prabhakaran was killed, the state-run Daily News reported.

The paper said, the Indian government officials had informed several countries where KP was believed to be sheltering to arrest him and hand him over for trial in the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. According to defence sources, KP played a major role in expanding the LTTE’s sea forces, the newspaper said.

Earlier this week, another LTTE activist claimed the rebels would form a government in exile.

The announcement was made by Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran, who claimed to be the coordinator of the committee for the formation of provisional Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam. He said the elections would be held next year. The claim by little-known Rudrakumaran came as Colombo is preparing to undertake local bodies elections in Jaffna and Vavuniya, where election fever is at its height.

He controlled global network of Tigers
 From his secret hideouts in South East Asia, Selvarasa Pathmanathan, better known as ‘KP’ controlled a global network that supplied weapons to the now vanquished LTTE which doggedly fought for a Tamil Eelam till recently.

Kumaran Pathmanathan, a close confidant of the slain LTTE supremo V Prabhakaran, is wanted by the Interpol in connection with several cases, including the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Known to have possessed passports of several countries and in-charge of several of LTTE’s illegal businesses like drug trafficking and smuggling, Pathmanathan was in direct contact with Prabhakaran till the guerrilla leader died in May.

Born as Shanmugam Kumaran Tharmalingam on April 6, 1955, in the town of Kankesanthurai in Jaffna district, Pathmanathan has an impeccable command over Tamil, English, French, Sinhalese and even Thai.

Intelligence agencies believe that he had bank accounts in London, Frankfurt, Denmark, Athens and Australia, funds from which were used to procure arms and ammunition.
Pathmanathan has been associated with the LTTE since its inception in the early 1970s and was appointed chief of its International Division just months before curtains came down on the decades-old civil war. Pathmanthan is also said to have set up lucrative businesses in Thailand and established a state-of-the-art boat yard, which manufactured over a dozen different boats, including mini-submarines and suicide boats.

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