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
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
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.