Thailand says Tamil Tiger leader arrested in Malaysia

BANGKOK, August 7, 2009 (AFP) – Thailand’s government on Friday rejected Sri Lankan state media claims that the new leader of the defeated Tamil Tiger separatist group had been arrested in Bangkok. Government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said Selvarasa Pathmanathan, better known as K.P., had instead been arrested in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

“The National Intelligence Agency has confirmed with the government that K.P. was arrested in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday night and he was transferred to Sri Lanka via Bangkok airport,” Panitan told reporters.

“The Thai government wants to reaffirm that K.P. is not in Thailand, nor was he arrested in Thailand, although he did used to visit,” he said.

Pathmanathan took over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) following the killing of its supreme leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, in mid-May as Sri Lankan forces overran the banned group’s rebel fiefdom.

The Sri Lankan defence ministry said Pathmanathan, who was also wanted by Interpol on gun-running charges, had been “taken into custody by Sri Lankan law enforcement authorities”.

The state-run Rupavahini television channel said he had been arrested in Thailand, but gave no