Sri Lankan Tiger chief’s father dies in custody: official

(From left) Dharmasri Kumaratunga, Director - Payments and Settlements, Central Bank; Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank; and Tharaka Ranwala, Head of Operations and Group Chief Marketing Officer, Sampath Bank

January 7, 2010 (AFP) – The elderly father of Sri Lanka’s slain Tamil rebel chief Velupillai Prabhakaran has died in military custody, officials said Thursday. Thiruvenkadam Velupillai, believed to be in his early 80s, died on Wednesday at an army base outside Colombo, a military official said, adding that he had been in “protective custody” since the Tamil Tigers’ defeat in May.

“He was ailing for some time and died last night at the Panagoda camp,” the official said. Prabhakaran’s parents were among civilians who escaped the war zone in northeastern Sri Lanka early last year as the military finally secured victory over the separatist rebels after decades of bloody ethnic conflict.