COLOMBO: Sri Lankan military has identified 2,377 "legitimate claimants" to handback a considerable stock of gold and jewellery it seized in the final battle against the LTTE more than five years ago.
Rejecting accusations levelled against it by the Tamil diaspora, the Lankan military yesterday said it has invited the rightful owners to contact the civil coordinating offices
in the former Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) regions to receive their items on verification of ownership.
The military said a considerable stock of gold jewellery had been recovered from the Tamil Eelam Banks and Eelam Pawning Centres run by the LTTE.
"All those recoveries of jewelleries were duly documented, properly catalogued and detained for safe keeping under the custody of the security forces on the directions of the President," an army statement said.
So far 2377 "legitimate claimants" have been identified to such jewelleries pawned by them to the LTTE, it said.
The military said President Mahinda Rajapaksa has started the process with a symbolic return of gold jewellery to 25 claimants on Sunday.
The move has refuted "a string of unfounded and venomous allegations that have been hitherto levelled by various elements including LTTE rump groups and others with vested interests over their destiny and safekeeping practices," it said.
The Army said if the legitimate owners are not found the gold and jewellery would be vested with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.
Tamil groups had said a great deal of gold and jewellery had fallen in the hands of the military during the final battle in 2009.
Nearly 300,000 civilians fled their homes and took refuge in government welfare camps in the final phase of the conflict.