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 Post subject: Lanka drops court martial plans against 70,000 deserters
 Post Posted: Sat Apr 23, 2005 2:52 pm 
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Lanka drops court martial proceedings against 70,000 deserters :

© Team India News Network

Colombo, April 22 : Sri Lankan government has decided to drop court martial proceedings against 70,000 military deserters in a new effort to overhaul the security forces.

The latest amnesty was aimed at men and officers who had deserted the armed forces in the past 25 years, defence ministry spokesman Daya Ratnayake said today.

"We are hoping that we will be able to clear 80 to 90 per cent of them from our book," Ratnayake said.

A similar amnesty in 2003 did not bring the expected results because deserters were asked to reimburse the state the cost of their training and repay in full the loans they may have taken from the military.

"This time the treasury is writing off some 3.9 billion rupees due from them," Ratnayake said.

The Sri Lankan army has some 120,000 to 130,000 regular soldiers.

The Navy has a strength of about 22,000 sailors while the airforce has a strength of about 17,000 airmen and women.

The highest number of desertions were at the height of fighting between government forces and Tamil Tiger rebels in the 1990s, the defence ministry said.

However, the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and government forces have been observing a truce since February 23, 2002.

The LTTE has admitted losing about 17,600 of its cadres since the first Tiger rebel was killed in November 1982 at the hands of the military, while security forces have suffered a similar number of fatalities.


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