Sri Lanka govt blamed at opposition lawmaker’s funeral

Jan 3, 2008 (AFP) – A prominent Sri Lankan Tamil opposition MP who was murdered earlier this week was cremated here Thursday amid tight security and allegations that the island’s government was behind the killing. The cremation took place amid heavy fighting between government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels in northern Sri Lanka, hours after the government said it was pulling out of a tattered 2002 truce. The funeral of Thiagarajah Maheswaran, a member of the United National Party (UNP) and an outspoken defender of the rights of Tamils on the ethnic Sinhalese-majority island, was held under the watch of heavily armed troops and police.

“Who killed Maheswaran? The government is responsible,” mourners shouted as they walked behind the closed wooden coffin covered with flowers, witnesses said.

Mourners and opposition activists also wore black bands as a sign of protest against the killing, which took place on New Year’s Day as Maheswaran was in prayers at a Hindu temple in capital Colombo.

The killing came just two weeks after Sri Lanka withdrew security from the MP, who later declared in parliament that the government would be responsible if anything happened to him.

The government has given no exp