Free Passage

A Sri Lankan court has freed 21 men who were accused of involvement in the 1993 assassination of president Ranasinghe Premadasa, the state attorney general’s department said Thursday. A Sri Lankan court has freed 21 men who were accused of involvement in the 1993 assassination of president Ranasinghe Premadasa, the state attorney general’s department said Thursday. The 20 ethnic Tamils and a man from the majority Sinhalese community who were accused of complicity in the May 1, 1993, suicide bombing of Premadasa were discharged by a magistrate here Wednesday and the case was closed, a department official said.

The suspects had been freed on bail for a long period of time and only eight of them turned up in court for the hearing Wednesday, officials said.

Colombo Magistrate L. Liyanarachchi freed the 21 men after police said they were withdrawing the charges due to insufficient evidence, the official said.

Premadasa was killed by a suicide bomber as he led a May Day procession in the capital Colombo. Twenty-one others also died in the blast. The government blamed Tamil Tiger rebels, a charge denied by the guerrillas.

Premadasa had initiated peace talks with the Ti