Sri Lankan sentenced in attack on ex-president

AP News
Posted: Oct 27, 2010 5:59 AM
Sri Lankan sentenced in attack on ex-president

A Sri Lankan man was convicted Wednesday of conspiring to kill the country's former president in a suicide bomb attack and was sentenced to 30 years of hard labor, an official said.

Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga survived the attack at an election rally in December 1999 but lost one eye in the blast.

Twenty-six others were killed and scores of others were wounded in the attack, blamed on the now-defeated Tamil Tiger rebels.

The defendant, Sakthivel Ilankesvaran, an ethnic Tamil man employed as a driver who was 19 at the time of the attack, confessed to transporting the explosives from rebel-controlled territory to the capital, Colombo.

A government official announced the sentence on condition of anonymity, citing government policy.

Three others have also been indicted in the case.

The rebels, who fought a quarter-century insurgency to create an independent state for Sri Lanka's ethnic minority Tamils, are blamed for hundreds of suicide bombings against political, military and economic targets over 22 years.

Former Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi were among key political leaders killed by rebel suicide bombers.

Government troops defeated the Tamil Tigers last year. The conflict killed an estimated 80,000-100,000 people.