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Last modified on: 4/19/2012 3:38:47 PM Mysterious disappearance of Lion Air 602 unearthed

Mysterious disappearance of Lion Air 602 unearthed

Was the Lion Air 602 passenger aircraft shot down by a LTTE missile, did it crash due to a technical fault or did a hidden bomb explode inside the aircraft? All those questions were unanswered and buried with the history; and the whole incident was shrouded in mystery.

The ill-fated Lion Air 602 took off from Pallali airport carrying 48 passengers to Ratmalana and disappeared from the radar screen just after ten minutes leaving a big mystery yet to be unfolded in fully.

The mysterious crash of the Lion Air 602 Antonov - 26 passenger aircraft on 29 September 1998 killed 48 passengers, 6 crew members and two Ukrainian pilots.

The main suspect who was responsible for this crime against humanity killing 56 people including children and women had been ordered to shot down this civilian passenger aircraft by Gadafi, a senior LTTE terrorist leader. According to his confession to the Terrorist Investigation Department (TID), Gadafi had ordered four members of their missile squadron including the suspect, to shot down the Lion Air passenger aircraft, which was flying over Iranativu Islands on 29 September 1998.

Shiwasubramaniam Thillaraj, the main suspect has admitted that he had launched a missile to bring down the aircraft, knowing that civilians were travelling onboard. Further, the suspect and other 17 members of LTTE had received training on Anti Aircraft Missiles, he has confessed.

The Tamil Civilian passengers on board the flight ranged in age from 18 to 89. Many of them were working or studying in Colombo.

In the absence of land passage to the north at that time, and the ship service taking considerably long time, the airline was the best choice for passengers, especially for those who visit Sri Lanka from abroad for a short period.

However, immediately after the tragedy, the government had to stop all private Colombo-Jaffna flights until further notice considering the risk of lives of Tamil civilians who were travelling on board civilian passenger aircraft.

With the cancellation of the flights, more than 3000 Tamil civilians were reported to have been stranded in Jaffna and Colombo.

This incident was one of clear examples as how the LTTE had denied right of movement of their own people though they pretended to be their sole survivors.

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