Sri Lanka frees detained human rights activists

Colombo, March 19: Sri Lanka has freed two human rights activists three days after they were arrested on terrorism-related charges, a police spokesman said Wednesday.

Senior Superintendent of Police Ajith Rohana said the two activists were produced before a magistrate overnight and set free after being questioned by the police terrorist investigations division, Xinhua reported.

Ruki Fernando and a Catholic priest Reverend Father Praveen were arrested in the northern town of Kilinochchi under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). Further investigations will continue.

The arrest sparked an outcry with the US and Britain as well as human rights groups both in Sri Lanka and overseas demanding their release.

The issue was also raised at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) which is currently meeting in Geneva but the government defended the arrest saying it was linked to attempts by Tamil Tiger rebels to regroup in the North.

Another woman, Balendran Jeyakumari, was arrested earlier also from the north over allegations she harbored a Tamil Tiger suspect in her house. She remains in detention as investigations continue.

IANS