Karuna hits back with more details
Erik Solheim's dealings with Prabhakaran and Anton
ASIANTRIBUNE: Rebutting the denial issued by the Norwegian Foreign
Ministry on Erik Solheim's questionable dealings with the Tigers, V.
Muralitharan alias Karuna, hit back giving more details of the
transactions, including the gifting of a six-foot TV to the TV addict
Velupillai Prabhakaran and 16 million kroners handed to Anton
Balasingham to buy ammunition. Karuna: "I think Erik Solheim might not
have disclosed the details about the purchase of the 6' TV to the
Foreign Ministry as it happened especially in Bangkok."
Karuna told the Asian Tribune that he would not withdraw one syllable
of what he told the Editor of the Daily News, Bandula Jayasekera. Karuna,
deputy to Prabhakaran, was a close confidante of the Tiger Supremo, when
he led the Tiger forces to victory after victory in battles against the
Sri Lankan forces.
Revealing more details, he re-confirmed, among other things, that
Erik Solheim gave 16 million kroners to Balasingham and Tamilselvan
appealed to Solheim to buy a big TV for Prabhakaran.
Asian Tribune published the interview of Karuna on November 27 under
the title "Solheim in the pay of Tigers: his house in Norway bought with
Tiger money - Karuna."
In a press release under the caption, "Open Letter to the Editor,"
the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denied the contents
of Karuna's face-to-face interview with the Editor of the Daily News. It
accused the Daily News of spreading lies.
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in its denial said: "The
information on which the questions and answers in the interview are
based unfortunately contains many incorrect and false claims about
Norway and International Development Minister Erik Solheim.
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs would like to take this
opportunity to dispel some of these misconceptions and lies."
Asian Tribune contacted Karuna for his comments on the denial issued
by the Royal Norwegian Foreign Ministry. Here are the details provided
"I think Erik Solheim might not have disclosed the details about the
purchase of the 6' TV to the Foreign Ministry as it happened especially
in Bangkok. It was Tamilselvan who informed Erik Solheim about
Prabhakaran's request for a TV.
"Subsequently, when I was with our delegation in Bangkok, Tamilselvan
invited Tharmalingham, alias KP the key agent purchasing arms for the
Tigers in the underworld, to the Norwegian Embassy in Bangkok and money
was paid to him to purchase the TV on behalf of Erik Solheim. KP was
told that this was to be presented to Prabhakaran.
"KP who is wanted by the Interpol on many counts of charges on
illegal operations, bought the TV and gave it to Tamilselvan to be
carried to Vanni on the instructions of Erik Solheim.
"This happened during the fourth round of talks between the LTTE and
the Government of Sri Lanka held on 06-09 January 2003. After the
Conference was over, we flew out of Bangkok to Vanni in an AirLanka
At the Bangkok International Airport the Station Manager of AirLanka
refused to allow TV to be taken free of charge.
He said that Tamilselvan must pay for excessive luggage charges and
again Tamilselvan called Erik Solheim and it was Erik Solheim who rushed
to the airport and solved the excessive luggage problem.
Later, at the Sri Lanka airport we had problems regarding this TV.
Tamilselvan managed to go through the customs without paying any taxes.
But Air Force helicopter people refused to take the huge luggage with
the TV in the helicopter.
Later Norwegian Embassy in Colombo made special transport arrangement
to take the TV by road. Along with the TV luggage two Norwegian Embassy
people also went and delivered it in Vanni to be presented to
Prabhakaran as a special gift from Erik Solheim.
"I wish to recall that no one would have forgotten about the US. $
100,000 worth of radio equipment brought into Sri Lanka in the middle of
December 2002, under diplomatic cover by the Norwegian Embassy during
the time when John Westbog was the Ambassador in Colombo," said Karuna.
Royal Norwegian Foreign Ministry in its denial said: "It is also
claimed in the article that Mr Solheim gave 16 million Norwegian kroner
to Mr Balasingham. This has no basis in reality and is false
Responding to this denial, Karuna said: "It was agreed with LTTE that
they will be amply rewarded in case their representatives participate in
the first Sri Lanka Donor conference held in Norway on November 25 in
Oslo, where representatives of 16 countries as well as the then Sri
Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe too participated.
Anton Balasingham participated in the conference on behalf of the
LTTE. The image of Balasingham shaking hand with Ranil Wickremesinghe
was highlighted and the conference was hailed as a success.
"Norway's role was hailed internationally. Subsequently when we had
the third round of Peace talks with the Government of Sri Lanka on
December 2 to 5 in Oslo, Norway, I was a part of the negotiation team
led by Anton Balasingham.
During that round of talks Balasingham showed us the papers connected
with the fund transfer of Norwegian Kroner 16 million which was
subsequently transferred to an account, the detail of which was not
known to me.
But Balasingham told me that money was meant for the purchase of a
shipment of arms. But I am aware that the arms shipments arrived to
Mullaithivu after 40 days.
"In the beginning whenever Erik Solheim went to Vanni he had on
several occasions met Prabhakaran privately, outside the official talks
he had with Tamilselvan.
"In those talks he has on a few occasion advised Prabhakaran how to
run his outfit. I was personally present in one of those meetings where
he was trying to advise Prabhakaran.
"I think I have clarified with more precise details of what appeared
in my earlier interview.
"I am unable to understand why Erik Solheim did not come forward
personally to deny those allegations levelled against him by me.
"I think that Erik Solheim's integrity is at stake and it is high
time he personally come with his explanation," said Karuna.
Karuna also added: "We know very well that Erik Solheim was earlier
from a small left wing party and was a political nobody. But it was the
Sri Lanka facilitation that built him as a successful international
"We know well that Erik Solheim is a rich forest owner, but he
received money from the LTTE as he was having some cash problems and the
LTTE made use of the opportunity to help him.
The issue of paying money was discussed by Anton Balasingham and I am
well aware of the payment made.
"It is now up to Erik Solheim to come forward and deny the
allegations and he should not hide behind the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs to save himself.
"This is not the first time Norwegian peace facilitators received
money from the parties involved in the conflicts.
"Bribing Norwegian peace-brokers is not a new thing. Israelis bribed
Morten Rod Larsen and his wife with 100,000 US dollars after he provided
an Israeli foundation with substantial amounts.
There are numerous allegations of kickbacks from the 100 million US
dollars Norway is giving to corrupt Palestinian organisations. Even
though the UN has informed Norway about the widespread embezzlement, the
flow of funds continued.
"These foreign funds were diverted from the Palestinian people who
were supposed to receive it to Swiss banks. The Palestinians were angry
and was a major factor in the Hamas victory over the Fatah party. My
point of view is that the lack of control of foreign funds destabilised
both Palestine and the peace process. This resulted in the chaos we have
"The same corrupt practices are applicable to Sri Lanka and LTTE too.
Even some of the NGOs are funded by Norway to speak on their behalf
against Sri Lankans opposed to the LTTE," said Karuna.
Norwegian Foreign Ministry in its denial said "Further it is stated
that "Erik Solheim gifted a 6 ft TV screen to Prabhakaran to watch
The Ministry would again like to underline that "it is surprised to
see that such blatant lies are being printed by the Daily News. Solheim
has certainly not bought a television for Prabhakaran."
Regarding this denial, I think it is important that we should read
the question and answer connected with this denial.
I was asked "Who killed Lakshman Kadirgamar? Who killed Kethesh
My reply to this question was "It is the LTTE. There is no doubt.
Lakshman Kadirgamar was Prabhakaran's biggest problem because the world
accepted what Kadirgamar said.
"Do you know that Prabhakaran watch many films and he used the method
in the movie 'Day of the Jackal' to kill Kadirgamar.
He got the idea from the film. I must also tell you that Erik Solheim
gifted a 6 ft TV screen to Prabhakaran to watch films.
"But, former Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgessen was totally
But Solheim went ahead and gifted the screen. About Kethesh. He was
an intellectual. Tamil people liked him and he was never against the
Tamil people. Kethesh was against Prabhakaran and that's why he was
Political analysts commenting on the reaction of the Norwegian
Foreign Ministry said that this reaction was predictable. The
allegations made by Karuna should be taken seriously because he is the
only available eye-witness who was privy to the inside dealings of the
His accusation sound credible considering in particular the partisan
role played by Erik Solheim.
"His allegations are damaging to the credibility and the impartiality
of the role by Norway as non-partisan facilitators of peace.
Erik Solheim's role has come under flak from all political quarters.
But this is the first time that it has been attacked, with specific
instances, from a Tamil source that was close to Prabhakaran.
Solheim's rush to appease the Tigers has not helped his image either.
It was even reported that he picked up the liquor bill of Anton
Balasingham after the talks held in Tokyo. Rightly or wrongly Solheim is
in the dock and Norway and the Co-Chairs have to re-consider his role in
the peace process," said a leading commentator.