Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake on Wednesday (26) at the Media Centre of the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, announcing the release of another stock of gold jewelleries to 1960 more identified rightful owners in the North at a ceremony on December 4, headed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, spelt out the painstaking efforts and the time-consuming verification process that had been undertaken by the Army for accelerated return of those stocks on a special directive of the President.
The media briefing was further told that another total of remaining 419 owners of those recovered jewelleries, is yet to be traced for return as early as possible after making every effort in that direction, in close coordination with officials of state agencies, IDP centres, resettled villages, foreign destinations, etc since those stocks of gold jewelleries, had been recovered largely from the so-called ‘Tamil Eelam Banks’ and ‘Eelam Pawning Centres’ that were operating at the time of humanitarian operations before May 2009.
The latest 1960 identified owners from Mannar (223), Vavuniya (319), Jaffna (45), Kilinochchi (1187) and Mullaittivu (186) will accordingly, arrive at Temple Trees in Colombo on December 4, to receive their jewelleries back from the President, following coordination of the Army, Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake said.
In Kilinochchi on 12 October 2014, President Rajapaksa symbolically returning recovered jewelleries to 25 recipients inaugurated the handover of gold jewelleries to 2377 legitimate owners in the Northern Province under the first phase, although some of those owners, were found having already obtained the money value for those jewelleries from the LTTE as evidenced in respective receipts, produced to the Army by the victims.
“All those recoveries were duly documented, properly catalogued and detained for safekeeping by the Army at first, and the most challenging mechanism for identification of the owners, was put in place a few years ago after implementing various measures, meant to identify the exact owners. Some receipts or documents thus produced by claimants were beyond verification or identification while some had only just a bit of the first name or the surname, mentioned. In some cases, a piece of hand written or illegible paper was the only evidence, and with all that legitimacy of the return of those valuable jewelleries of high sentimental value to Tamil civilians, needed and had to be cross-checked and properly ascertained at village level state officials and other sources which itself was a daunting task to the Security Forces”, the Commander said.
As recent as last October, north-based Security Forces through their Civil Coordinating Offices in the Wanni, Kilinochchi, Mullaittivu, Mannar and Jaffna appealed the public who have still failed to claim their gold valuables which had been deposited with the LTTE, to reach those offices and process their ownership claims, proving their bona fides.
In order to expedite the process for return of remaining jewelleries under safe-keeping, owners who still possess any LTTE issued pieces of evidence or acceptable or supportive documents to that effect, are encouraged to report to the nearest Civil Coordinating Offices in the north and place their claims for necessary onward process of identification, the Commander added.
Likewise, the Security Forces in the event legitimate claimants could not be traced, expect to hand over those remaining jewelleries to the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in accordance with State regulations and provisions, the Commander concluded.
Military Spokesman, Navy and Air Force Spokesmen and Director Media at Army Headquarters were present at the occasion.