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"An attempt to soften India's attitude"

Staff Reporter

Legal situation unchanged: Kaarthikeyan



D.R. Kaarthikeyan

MADURAI: The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was trying to soften the attitude of the Government and people of India by coming out with a confession and apology in connection with the former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, the former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director, D.R. Kaarthikeyan, said on Wednesday.

Speaking to The Hindu over telephone, Mr. Kaarthikeyan, who led the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that probed the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, said the LTTE's chief negotiator Anton Balasingham's statement would not in any way alter the legal situation in the case. The charge sheeted case against the absconding accused was pending before the court.

The fact that India had commuted the death sentence of one of the key accused to life imprisonment and "did nothing for over eight years to implement the death sentence confirmed by the Supreme Court on three other accused" might have made the LTTE think that there was a softening of the Centre's attitude. "I do not think any politician could have played a role in the LTTE coming out with a confession at this stage," he said.

Not surprised

Mr. Kaarthikeyan said he was not surprised at the `confession' of the LTTE. "After the miserably failed attempts by some self-seeking politicians in our own country to derail and disrupt the investigation and trial [in the assassination case], admission of guilt by unarguably the deadliest terrorist group in the world gives me immense professional satisfaction."

Accusing the LTTE of "ingratitude" and "short-sightedness", he said it was Rajiv Gandhi who took enormous interest and went out of the way to solve the Sri Lankan ethnic crisis.

The conspiracy to kill Rajiv Gandhi was a decision taken at the highest level [in the LTTE] and was not known even to leaders such as Mathiah. "The LTTE wanted to take revenge for the damage suffered by them due to IPKF operations."

Asked whether the outfit was looking for sympathy, he said it always wanted support from India and other countries. Both the LTTE and Sri Lankan defence forces were overtaken by "battle fatigue" and felt "weakened."

On whether the LTTE's statement coincided with the war situation in Sri Lanka, Mr. Kaarthikeyan said war clouds were hovering over the island nation for over 15 years.

One of the reasons for the sudden confession could be that the "LTTE was convinced that unless India is involved actively now, there cannot be a solution satisfactory to Tamils.

"They might have calculated that admitting a fact which is already universally established and expressing regret could soften India's attitude to some extent."

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