Gotabaya says “I did not lead army during war against LTTE”; Dampens SLPP campaign impetus
Addressing a special media briefing held at the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo, SLPP Presidential Candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that it wasn’t him who led the war against the LTTE.
Responding to a question raised by The Hindu’s Meera Srinivasan, who questioned as to what happened to those who had surrendered to the army during the final phase of the war Gotabaya said that “You are mistaken, I did not lead the Army”, there was an Army Commander”
In response, the journalist from the Hindu rephrased her question “Well as Defense Secretary you obviously should be aware…?”
Rajapaksa then said that 13,784 individuals had in fact been re-integrated to society following rehabilitation.
He also said that these individuals were enrolled into the Civil Defense Force as well as the Army, outlining that no country in the world had achieved such a fete.
Gotabaya also denied that none of the those who had surrendered were held in detention.
When asked whether this meant that he denied the allegations of missing individuals, Rajapaksa blamed the digits on ‘collateral’ adding that even “Around 12,000 officers had gone missing in the Army some of whose bodies could not be recovered”.
He also told the Hindu’s journalist that Missing individuals and those who had surrendered to the army were two different things in their entirety.
The Presidential campaign of the SLPP under former strongmen Mahinda & Gotabaya Rajapaksa has been built heavily over the war victory claiming defeat over the now-defunct LTTE.