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Monday, January 26, 2009

Defection of UMNO SA to PKR - working out of “RAHMAN” prophecy?

The defection of Umno Perak State Assemblyman for Bota Datuk Nasarudin Hashim to Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) strengthens the Pakatan Rakyat government in Perak which has been governing with a wafer-thin majority, i.e. 32 – 27 from the previous 31 – 28.

A portentous sign of the times.

The working out of the most famous political prophecy, “RAHMAN”?

Kugan: Statements of nine people recorded

  Datuk S.K. Devamany being escorted to into the  the Sepang police headquarters to give his statement yesterday.
Datuk S.K. Devamany being escorted to into the the Sepang police headquarters to give his statement yesterday.

NST, Jan 26 2009

PUTRAJAYA: Police recorded the statements of nine people yesterday, following Tuesday night's incident where a group was alleged to have forced its way into the Serdang Hospital mortuary housing the body of A. Kugan who died while in police custody.



Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk S.K. Devamany arrived at the Sepang police headquarters at 4.15pm, followed shortly after by MIC Youth chief , T. Mohan.

In the morning, seven people, including a Makkal Osai reporter and editor as well as a Tamil Osai journalist, had their statements recorded.

The rest were two MIC members, Kapar member of parliament S. Manikavasa-gam and N. Surendran, who is the lawyer to Kugan's family.

Also present at the headquarters' compound was Teluk Intan MP M. Manoharan, who is acting as attorney to Manikavasagam and Surendran.
The other deputy minister, Senator T. Murugiah, who was also present at the mortuary, had his statement recorded on Friday at his office here.

Devamany said he was satisfied with the questioning, adding that he was also glad that he had carried out his duties.

Manikavasagam denied that he and the others who were at the mortuary had either broken into the area or trespassed.

"I have recorded evidence (video recording). It is all in there and I have promised to hand it over to the police.

"During the incident, the deceased's family called me to come over. I was the first MP and lawyer there," he said, adding that he was ready to be recalled by the police at any time.

Surendran said that based on the Serdang Hospital attendant's report, it clearly showed that the door to the mortuary was open when the estimated 50 people entered.

He claimed that the hospital made wild accusations when it said that the crowd had barged in.

Reports said the group forced its way into the mortuary and evicted the hospital staff before locking themselves in for two hours.
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Devastated: Kugan’s family grieving after seeing his body at the mortuary. pic: thestar.com

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Selangor police chief: Don’t turn Kugan funeral into a political protest

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 — The Selangor police have warned those attending the funeral of A. Kugan, who died whilst in police custody, not to participate in any illegal gathering or carry banners and posters.

The funeral is scheduled on Wednesday.

Selangor police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar said the funeral should not be politicised or turned into an illegal demonstration as it would disrupt public order and lead to chaos.

He believed that plans were underway by certain groups to turn the occasion into an illegal gathering to protest against alleged police brutally.

Khalid said the police learnt the funeral procession would be organised in such a manner that it would involve certain parts of the city before arriving at an undisclosed burial ground in Selangor.

"Cards and banners are also expected to be carried by members of the procession," he said in a statement here today.

The police chief advised the public not participate in the illegal gathering as the force was not against a normal funeral procession and respected the grieving family. — Bernama

‘Why did he end up dead in the lockup?’

By Neville Spykerman( The Malaysian Insider)

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 — The family of Kugan Ananthan, today, lashed out at police for hiding behind a wall of silence, over the death of the 22-year-old suspected car-thief.

Kugan’s uncle V.Raviroy said the police have yet to offer an explanation or apology over what had happened and have continued to keep the family in the dark.

The 42-year-old businessman said the family’s anguish started when Kugan disappeared on Jan 14.

“The police never informed us that he was arrested and we only heard about it from an anonymous caller,” Raviroy told The Malaysian Insider.

Even then, the police refused to disclose where he was being detained.

Raviroy claims that Kugan died at 11am on Jan 20 at the Taipan USJ police station but the family was only informed at 9pm by a group of plain-clothed detectives who came to their home in Kinrara, Puchong.

“All they said was that he had died and his body was at the University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC).

However when the family arrived at the mortuary at UMMC, they were told Kugan’s body was at the Serdang Hospital.

“Look what they have put us through,” he said.

Raviroy said whatever Kugan was accused of doing; he did not deserve to die.

“Kugan was only 22, he had his whole life ahead of him, why did he end up dead in the lockup,” he lamented

He said Kugan worked for an insurance claims company and did not have a police record.

Raviroy said the family had lost confidence in the police force, which did not want to allow them to have a second post-mortem.

He was especially critical of the Selangor police chief Datuk Khaild Abu Bakar who he claimed kept issuing statements to the Press but never once came to meet the family or offer an explanation.

“What we know so far about the case is what we read in the newspapers, neither Khalid nor his officers have come to see us.”

Raviroy said they will claim Kugan’s body on Wednesday and he will be cremated at the Puchong Batu 14 crematorium at 2pm.

Anwar: More crossovers soon

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 — More Barisan Nasional lawmakers will cross over to Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) soon following Datuk Nasaruddin Hashim’s defection, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim predicted today.

The opposition leader expressed confidence that there will be a slew of defections occurring fortnightly from February onwards.

“Now the Ox has come in, just be patient... we are working hard just like the ox,” Anwar said at a Chinese New Year party in Klang.

His confidence stemmed from the move by his old campus mate Nasaruddin, who is Bota assemblyman, on Sunday.

Effectively the Pakatan Rakyat majority in the state assembly grew from three to five.

The architect of Pakatan’s strong showing had been silent on the matter of defections since the failure of the Sept 16 federal government takeover plan.

Meanwhile according to Bernama, Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin today asserted three more assemblymen, said to be from Umno, will join Pakatan.

If this comes true, then the Pakatan government in Perak which was surviving on a razor thin majority of three might increase it to 11 in a matter of weeks.-The Malaysian Insider

MIC defends both ministers linked to Serdang Hospital mortuary incident

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 — The MIC will defend the two deputy ministers if the authorities find them to have broken the law in the incident where a crowd raided the mortuary of Serdang Hospital last Tuesday.

“We will hire as many lawyers to defend them if they are charged in court,” MIC president Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu said in a statement issued here today.

He was commenting on Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar’s statement yesterday that Datuk K Devamany and Senator T Murugiah, both deputy ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department, might likely face action if they were present at the mortuary when the crowd barged into the mortuary to examine the body of suspected car thief A Kugan who had died while in police custody.

The MIC president said it did not matter from which party the two deputy ministers hailed from as long as they were Indians “because the MIC represents the Indian community in Malaysia”.

While Devamany is a MIC member, Murugiah is from the People’s Progressive Party (PPP).

Devamany was among nine people quizzed by the police yesterday over the incident. It was also reported that 11 policemen being investigated for allegedly causing hurt to Kugan would not be spared action if they were found to have abused their powers.

Kugan, 22, who was detained on Jan 15 at the Taipan police station in Subang Jaya on suspicion of being involved in the theft of luxury cars in Sungai Chua, Kajang, died while being questioned on Tuesday.

Selangor police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar had said a post-mortem found that Kugan had died due to fluid in his lungs, but Kugan’s family sought a second post-mortem, insisting that Kugan had died of injuries.

Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail said later that Kugan’s death had been classified as murder.

Samy Vellu also urged Syed Hamid to ensure that the police probe into Kugan’s death was transparent.

“The MIC will be monitoring the case but we are confident that the police will leave no stones unturned in their investigation,” he said. — Bernama

Kes Kugan: Keluarga 'lega' hasil awal bedah siasat kedua

BAPA A. Kugen, Ananthan (dua dari kanan) bersama isterinya, N. Indra (tiga dari kanan) di bilik mayat Pusat Perubatan Universiti Malaya malam tadi. - foto The Star oleh MOHD SAHAR MISNI

[DIKEMAS KINI] PETALING JAYA: Keluarga suspek polis yang meninggal dunia ketika ditahan di lokap Balai Polis di Subang Jaya Selasa lalu, "gembira" dengan hasil awal bedah siasat kedua yang dijalankan di Pusat Perubatan Universiti Malaya (PPUM) hari ini.

Keluarga dan pasukan peguam telah diberikan penjelasan oleh doktor yang membedah siasat mayat A. Kugan selama tujuh jam bermula pukul 2.30 petang tadi.

"Anggota keluarga, peguam dan saya gembira dengan hasil siasatan... kami okey, okey dengan penjelasan yang diberikan oleh pakar bedah siasat, Dr. Prasant," kata Ahli Parlimen Kapar, S. Manikavasagam ketika dihubungi lewat malam tadi.

"Setakat ini, saya hanya boleh mengatakan yang kami gembira dengan hasil bedah siasat awal ini," katanya lagi.

Tegasnya, beliau tidak boleh memberikan komen selanjutnya sehingga menunggu tindakan susulan yang akan diumumkan Rabu ini.

Anggota keluarga berkenaan diberikan penjelasan kira-kira 40 minit bermula pukul 10 malam tadi sebaik hasil bedah siasat berakhir.

Seramai lima anggota keluarga termasuk ibu bapa Kugan diberikan penjelasan oleh pakar bedah berkenaan. Turut hadir ialah tiga peguam keluarga itu, Gobind Singh, N. Surendran dan M. Manogaran.

Bagaimanapun Manikavasagam yang turut hadir dalam penjelasan itu memberitahu, pihaknya belum menerima laporan bertulis, yang dikeluarkan dalam waktu terdekat.

"Laporan bertulis akan diberikan dalam masa terdekat... ujian-ujian lanjut juga akan dijalankan ke atas sampel," katanya.

Katanya lagi, mayat Kugan akan diperoleh Rabu ini untuk upacara pengebumian.

"Untuk tindakan lanjut kami, saya berharap anda akan menunggu hingga Rabu ini," kata beliau lagi.

Terdahulu pada sidang media di Pusat Perubatan Universiti Malaya, Gobind yang juga Ahli Parlimen Puchong berkata: "Pakar bedah telah menjelaskan beberapa penemuan kepada kami tetapi kami tidak akan membuat kenyataan lanjut mengenainya sehingga Rabu ini."

"Kami juga dimaklumkan bahawa beberapa sampel akan dihantar ke Jabatan Kimia untuk siasatan lanjut," katanya.

Laporan Bernama awal pagi tadi menyebut, Timbalan Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri Senator T Murugiah berkata permohonan keluarga mangsa supaya diadakan bedah siasat kedua, berjaya dilakukan setelah kes itu dimajukan kepada Timbalan Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak semalam.

"Semalam keluarga Kugan menghubungi saya dengan mengatakan mereka berhadapan dengan kesulitan dalam permohonan bedah siasat kedua. Lalu saya hubungi Menteri Kesihatan Datuk Liow Tiong Lai dan Menteri Pengajian Tinggi Datuk Seri Khalid Nordin untuk berbincang perkara ini.

"Kemudian saya hubungi TPM dan mendapat jaminan daripada beliau bahawa bedah siasat kali kedua akan dijalankan seperti kehendak keluarga Kugan," katanya kepada pemberita ketika ditemui di PPUM.

Dalam pada itu, Murugiah ketika dihubungi berkata, beliau telah menunjukkan gambar yang diambil di bilik mayat kepada Timbalan Perdana Menteri di Putrajaya petang tadi.

"Timbalan Perdana Menteri menjanjikan akan mengambil tindakan dalam isu ini," katanya.

UNTUK SIARAN MEDIA: Kenyataan Media Ahli Parlimen Kelana Jaya pada 24 Januari

Ketua Polis Negeri Perlu Bercuti Sehingga Siasatan Selesai
Saya menyeru supaya Ketua Polis Selangor, Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar mengambil cuti tanpa gaji atas kenyataan yang dikeluarkan oleh Peguam Negara yang mengklasifikasi kes kematian Kugan Ananthan dalam tahanan polis di Subang Jaya sebagai kes bunuh.
Bagi mengelakkan sebarang kecurigaan dari semua pihak bahawa polis akan mempengaruhi siasatan ini, maka Khalid diminta mengambil cuti sehingga siasatan terhadap kes ini selesai. Memandangkan kita masih belum melaksanakan Suruhanjaya Bebas Siatan Polis (IPCMC), siasatan polis terhadap anggota polis sudah tentu akan mengundang banyak spekulasi.
Di Subang Jaya, banyak laporan kes ragut dan pecah rumah dialami sehingga memberi ketakutan kepada penduduk. Alasan yang diberikan oleh pihak polis Subang Jaya ialah kekurangan anggota polis yang mengawal di kawasan sekeliling. Tetapi, insiden yang berlaku kepada pemuda 22 tahun pada 20 Januari lalu yang menunjukkan terdapat kesan-kesan jerut dan lebam yang teruk sehingga mati menunjukkan polis di Subang Jaya tidak melakukan tanggungjawab dengan sewajarnya, seolah-olah polis berkuasa dalam memberi hukuman. Sebelum gambar-gambar kecederaan selepas bedah siasat dibuat, Khalid mengeluarkan kenyataan bahawa mangsa bunuh tersebut mati kerana kesesakan nafas dan mati selepas meminta segelas air.
Sungguhpun mangsa tersebut disoal-siasat atas mengesyaki terlibat dalam beberapa kes jenayah, pihak polis sepatutnya faham atas batas tugas mereka – bukannya mendera.
Pada 10 November 2008, Khalid juga pernah mengeluarkan kenyataan salah apabila mendakwa orang ramai yang berhimpun semasa menyambut ulangtahun pertama Perhimpunan Aman BERSIH yang diadakan di Laman MBPJ 9 November lalu tidak menyanyikan lagu Negaraku dan menafikan polis bertindak ganas dalam meleraikan perhimpunan tersebut. Saya percaya dakwaan terhadap 21 mereka di Mahkamah Sesyen Petaling Jaya 23 Januari lalu atas desakan beliau.
Saya juga menyeru agar pelaksanaan IPCMC disegerakan agar keadilan dapat diberikan kepada semua pihak.
Gwo-Burne Loh

HINDRAF - Why is there no arrest of the police murderers?

HINDRAF is questioning the integrity, accountability and transparency of the police force in cohort with the AG’s office in issuing statements just to create an atmosphere to subdue public outcry.

Most Malaysians are aware that murder is a non-bailable offence according to the Penal Code. The brutal murder took place on January 20, 2009 and it has been four days and all we hear are contradicting statements from the police force and the AG’s office as usual from their mouthpiece, the mainmedia spinmasters to downplay the whole incident. Kugan’s brutal murder was committed while he was in detention in the police station not elsewhere, why do the police force and AG’s office needs three (3) days before even classifying it as a murder or arresting the accused police murderers? Why those who committed this have not been arrested until today?

Why such double standard? Is it because he is a defenseless Malaysian Indian? Is this going to be another cover –up and hoodwinking process for the public to absorb? Why is there a preferential justice for the perpetrators, just because they were police officers? Enough is enough, the late Kugan is also a Malaysian and he deserves equal treatment in the cause of justice in parity with any other Malaysian for the atrocity perpetrated by the police murderers or anyone else under Article 8 of the Federal Constitution.

The police force and the AG’s office are government servants working for the interest of the public in administering the governance of the nation and not in a position where they have discretion in preference for the police murderers and use it as and how they wish to administer that is suitable to their position to suppress the due process of law against public interest.

The foul play by the UMNO led administration through their executives is totally unacceptable as this is a brutal murder that took place while the late Kugan was in custody. The implementation of IPMC is paramount to ensure accountability and transparency prevails for the society as human right abuses and violations prevails within our systems with the current lopsided administration in the interest of the public.

Thank you.
P.Waytha Moorthy
HINDRAF- Chairman

Adun Bota: Dato Nasarudin Hashim Menyertai PKR

Berikut adalah kenyataan Dato Nasarudin Hashim berhubung kemasukan beliau ke dalam PKR:

—KENYATAAN MEDIA UNTUK EDARAN SEGERA—

PETALING JAYA, 25HB JANUARI 2009

Assalamualaikum,

Setelah membuat pertimbangan terutamanya apabila melihat perkembangan suasana politik khasnya arah tuju sokongan rakyat selepas Pilihanraya Umum ke 12 pada bulan Mac 2008, serta keadaan-keadaan yang wujud dalam parti dan kepimpinan Umno, saya dengan ini mengambil keputusan untuk keluar dari Umno dan seterusnya menyertai PKR iaitu salah satu parti dalam Pakatan Rakyat.

Keputusan ini diambil setelah lama meneliti dan mempertimbangkan kepentingan rakyat seluruhnya khususnya buat para penyokong dan pengundi saya di kawasan Dewan Undangan Negeri Bota:-

  1. Saya amat yakin dengan kepimpinan Parti Keadilan Rakyat yang mempunyai iltizam dan idealisme yang kuat untuk memperjuangkan hak-hak dan kepentingan rakyat yang terdiri dari pelbagai kaum di negara ini.
  2. Saya yakin Parti Keadilan Rakyat akan tetap menjunjung dan menghormati hak-hak yang termaktub dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan khususnya dalam kedudukan Bahasa Melayu sebagai bahasa rasmi kebangsaan, kedaulatan Raja-Raja Melayu dan kedudukan Islam sebagai agama Persekutuan.
  3. Saya percaya Parti Keadilan Rakyat dan rakan-rakan dalam Pakatan Rakyat mampu untuk menjadi sebuah permuafakatan komponen parti-parti yang lebih baik demi kepentingan rakyat seluruhnya.
  4. Untuk membolehkan saya menjadi ADUN yang lebih berkesan dan memberi khidmat terbaik kepada penduduk setempat memandangkan Pakatan Rakyat sudah pun menubuhkan kerajaan di Negeri Perak.

DATO NASARUDIN BIN HASHIM

ADUN BOTA NEGERI PERAK

Continue reading ‘Adun Bota: Dato Nasarudin Hashim Menyertai PKR’

Assemblyman's Party Hopping: Perak Umno To Meet Najib Tomorrow

IPOH, Jan 25 (Bernama) -- The Perak Umno Liaison Committee will meet party deputy president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak tomorrow evening to discuss the issue of Bota assemblyman Datuk Nasaruddin Hashim having joined Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) today.

Its chairman Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli Ghazali said Najib was expected to issue a statement after the meeting scheduled to be held in the federal capital.

"I am also asking Datuk Nasaruddin to meet the Umno president (Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) as there is nothing that cannot be resolved. If he is free, he can also meet Najib tomorrow," he told reporters after chairing an emergency meeting of Perak Barisan Nasional (BN) assemblymen, here, Sunday night.

Tajol Rosli also hoped that Nasaruddin would think deeply over his action and return to Umno.

On rumours that a number of BN assemblymen would be joining Pakatan Rakyat, he refuted them, saying they were mere speculation.

Asked whether Nasaruddin had before this voiced out any problems to him, he said Nasaruddin had never done so.

"Perhaps problems could have cropped up since the divisional elections last October where Nasaruddin contested the Bota Umno division chief post against the incumbent Datuk Mohd Zaim Abu Hassan and lost," he said.

Tajol Rosli also said that Nasaruddin had so far not contacted him and his phone calls to him (Nasaruddin) went unanswered, although some Umno members were in contact with him.

"Perhaps he feels embarrassed to speak to me after what happened, but I hope he will reconsider the decision (of joining Pakatan Rakyat) he made today," he added.

Twenty of the 28 Perak BN assemblymen attended the emergency meeting which ended at 11pm, while the rest other than Nasaruddin, were out of the state at the time.

-- BERNAMA

Sri Lanka rebels 'lose last town' (Al Jazeera)

Sri Lankan troops have made significant advances in the north and east in recent months [Gallo/Getty]

Sri Lankan troops have seized the last town held by separatist Tamil Tiger fighters,
Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka, the army chief, says.

"We have completely captured Mullaittivu," he said in a televised address to the nation on Sunday.

He said the Tamil Tigers now controlled an area of just 300sq km in the northeast of the island.

"The end of terrorism is near and we will definitely win. The Tiger garrison of Mullaittivu was destroyed today," Fonseka said.

It was not possible to independently verify the government's claims, as journalists are banned from the war zone.

The announcement came after the government said earlier in the day that the army had entered the town and hoped to secure it "in hours".

Heavy rebel resistance was reported as small groups of special forces entered Mullaittivu backed by 50,000 soldiers and helicopter gunships.

End of war?

The military has made dramatic gains in recent months, pushing the Tamil Tigers, who are fighting for an independent homeland in the north and east of the island, back to a small area in the east of the country.

Earlier this month, the Sri Lankan military captured the town of Kilinochchi, the Tamil Tigers' de facto capital in the north of the island.


The Tamil Tigers have not commented on the government's claims.

In the capital Colombo, some Sri Lankans responded to the news that the 25-year civil war could be over by honking their car horns and lighting firecrackers.

But Tony Birtley, Al Jazeera's correspondent reporting from Colombo, said the fall of Mullaittivu might not halt the country's long-running conflict.

"The LTTE are still strong, they still have a lot of backing and maybe we haven't seen the end of the Tamil Tigers yet. The country is practically down on its knees, not only because of the cost of executing this war, but because of the loss of revenue from tourism which was a major earner for Sri Lanka.

"But the issues that have caused this war 25 years ago have not been resolved and some of the critics of the government say there is a need for a political solution. That seems to be put on the side and at the moment, it seems to be military solution."

Dam destroyed

Birtley said earlier that the rebels could flee to the jungles and carry on fighting.

The rebels took control of Mullaittivu in 1996 when they overran a military camp there, killing nearly 1,000 soldiers.

On Sunday, the military said that the retreating rebels had flooded two villages after destroying a reservoir in an attempt to stall advancing government troops.

"As the conflict lines get closer these people are becoming more and more exposed to intense fighting and are increasingly caught in the crossfire"

James Elder, spokesman for the UN in Sri Lanka

Tamil Tiger fighters used explosives to destroy the walls of Kalmadukulam reservoir on Saturday, as government troops advanced on Visuamdu, in Mullaittivu district, a statement said.

Details of the welfare of villagers and the damage caused by flooding from the dam were not immediately available.

Soldiers also clashed with fighters in Chundikulam village in the same district and hours later recovered the bodies of two Tamil Tiger fighters, according to the statement.

As fighting has intensified, aid groups and diplomats have expressed fears for the safety of hundreds of thousands of civilians reportedly trapped in Tiger-held territory around Mullaittivu.

"As the conflict lines get closer these people are becoming more and more exposed to intense fighting and are increasingly caught in the crossfire," James Elder, a spokesman for the UN in Sri Lanka, told Al Jazeera.

Civilian deaths

"We are calling on the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] to meet their international responsibilities and guarantee that the civilian population can move freely and get away from this conflict zone," he said.

The rebel-affiliated TamilNet website said that five civilians were killed on Friday and 83 wounded when the army fired artillery shells into a government-declared "safe zone" for displaced families.

A doctor in the area confirmed on Saturday that five civilians were killed in shelling.

The military denied firing into the civilian settlements and launching attacks on the "safe zone", accusing the Tigers of carrying out the assaults themselves to keep civilians out of the area.

Human rights organisations have accused the rebels of using the civilians as human shields to block the government offensive.

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (CNN) -- Sri Lankan soldiers have seized a key rebel stronghold after launching a surprise attack early Sunday morning, the head of Sri Lanka's army announced.

Sri Lankan army chief Sarath Fonseka says a key Tamil town has been taken in a national TV broadcast Sunday.

Sri Lankan army chief Sarath Fonseka says a key Tamil town has been taken in a national TV broadcast Sunday.

Troops crossed a lagoon and entered the town of Mullaittivu before encountering heavy resistance from Tamil fighters, according to the government-run news agency.

"Our troops fought their way through a 40 km (25 mile) thick jungle track," Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka said in a televised address on Sunday.

"This is the long awaited victory and I am happy to say that our heroic forces today captured the Mullaittivu town after 12 years," the Sri Lanka Army chief said.

There is no confirmation from the rebels that the strategic garrison has been overtaken.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) -- commonly known as the Tamil Tigers -- have fought for an independent homeland for the country's ethnic Tamil minority since 1983. The civil war has left more than 70,000 people dead.

The rebels gained control over Mullaittivu in 1996 and established a military garrison there, according to the government.

In recent days, the military has made significant progress in its campaign to recapture rebel strongholds.

Earlier this month, troops regained control of the northern town of Elephant Pass, the point at which mainland Sri Lanka links to the northern Jaffna peninsula.

It had been in rebel hands for more than nine years.

The re-capture enabled the government to use a highway linking the mainland to the peninsula to move troops and supplies. Previously, it was done by air and sea.

"The area that the LTTE has dominated has shrank phenomenally," Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India, C.R Jayasinghe, told CNN. "They lost... about 90 percent of what they had."

Despite major government gains, critics point to ongoing civilian casualties resultant from the conflict.

"This is an important strategic success for the army, but literally tens of thousands of people, children, are in the line of fire," United Nations spokesman James Elder said in a phone conversation Sunday.

"Some Sri Lankan U.N. staff are trapped there," he added. "Convoys are going to the area, delivering emergency supplies, but these are not sufficient for the number of people in need."

Sri Lankan authorities are barring journalists and humanitarian aid workers from areas where heavy fighting is taking place.

Amnesty International spokesman Shuransu Mishra estimated that "over a quarter of a million of the population, mostly Tamils, are trapped between the two sides."

The organization says greater access and protection for aid workers and journalists are needed as news agencies struggle to report an accurate picture of the conflict.

"The Sri Lankan authorities are doing little to ensure the safety of the country's media, or to prosecute those responsible for murdering or attacking them," Amnesty International spokeswoman Yolanda Foster said in a written statement on Friday.

"They (Sri Lankan authorities) are also directly responsible for subjecting journalists to harassment and interrogation," she said.

At least 14 journalists have been killed since the start of 2006, according to the statement.

Others have been driven from the country by death threats, or in fear of detention and torture by government authorities, it said.

Post mortem update (By Haris Ibrahim)

Update at 10.45pm

Got the following sms at 9.57pm but could not write about it earlier as I was still at the Civic Centre, PJ for the anti-ISA vigil.

Post mortem done. Family members and YB Manickavasagam in meeting with pathologist.

This next sms came in at 10,06pm

YB Gobind just went in with Kugan’s mother and grandmother.

sms that came in at 10.17pm

Lawyer Surendran just went in.

Am told that the pathologist will now have to write up his report, whereafter the same will be released to the hospital administration before it can be released to the family of Kugan.

Assuming that there is no controversy with regard to the much awaited second autopsy, I am informed that the funeral will in all likelihood be on Tuesday, 27th January, 2009.

I will try to keep you all informed of the details of the funeral and would urge all of you to make time to join me in paying our last respects to this anak Bangsa Malaysia who has passed on in the most tragic of circumstances, and to share in the grief of his family.

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Update at 1.13pm :

Got the following sms at 12.40pm : Pathologist just informed family the hospital administration, after a meeting, ruled out any observers including lawyers. Family has no objection. Started.

I just spoke to the informant. He clarified that the sms was sent about 15 minutes or so after the family had met the pathologist and informed as detailed in the sms.

The post-mortem, that was scheduled to begin at 9am, was delayed to enable an x-ray to be done of the body.

After those intending to view the autopsy from the viewing gallery had, as required, surrendered their handphones, the family was summoned in to meet with the pathologist who informed them that he had received word that the hospital administration had, after a meeting this morning, decided and directed that no observers of the post-mortem would be allowed. This included family members of the deceased.

So as not to delay the procedure any further, the family have relented.

The informant understands that the post-mortem has begun.

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Got the following sms a short while ago:

I am sitting in on Kugan’s 2nd post-mortem. My mobile is off. Will contact u after it is over

The news reports suggest that this will take anything between 8-12 hours.

Will keep you updated as and when I receive any info.