Fate of LTTE spy chief unclear

COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan military is probing the possibility that the Tamil Tiger's spy chief may still be alive, despite testimony that he was killed with the rest of the rebel leadership.

"The military is still investigating Tiger intelligence wing leader Pottu Amman's death as they could not find his body among the top level Tiger leaders," the state-run Sunday Observer said.

Amman was seen as the number two in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) hierarchy after rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and was believed to have masterminded the 1991 assassination of Indian premier Rajiv Gandhi.

The newspaper, which reflects government policy, said the military had testimony from a surrendered Tiger cadre who claimed that the spy leader had been killed before the final battle in which Prabhakaran perished.

However, no body was ever found.

Amman is the subject of an international arrest warrant for the Gandhi slaying as well as the 1996 bombing of the Sri Lankan Central Bank which killed 91 people.

The Observer said the military could not confirm the deaths of Prabhakaran's wife, Mathiwathini, and their daughter, Dwarka, although they were suspected to have been in the same area during the final military offensive against the LTTE.

The military on Thursday identified Prabhakaran's parents, who had sought shelter with security forces after fleeing the conflict zone.

Government troops announced the defeat of the LTTE two weeks ago.

Ethnic Tamils displaced by the fighting are now being held in camps ringed by barbed wire and security forces, who say they need to weed out former rebel fighters disguised as civilians.