Ritual murder of shopkeeper is linked to Tamil Tigers

Last updated at 11:36 29 December 2006

A terror group banned in Britain is at the centre of a Scotland Yard inquiry into the ritual-style murder of a London shopkeeper.

Detectives investigating the killing of Subramaniam Sivakumar, 44, believe it may have been the work of followers of the Tamil Tigers, the Sri Lankan separatist group outlawed across the world.

The father of three was found nearly a year ago laid out face down on the floor of his store the Apna Bazaar in Willesden High Road.

His body was pointing south, with his hands by his side. A single white shoelace was tied around his neck and bags of rice placed over his body.

A post-mortem examination was unable to determine cause of death but puncture marks were found behind his ear and he had been tied up before he died raising the possibility he had been tortured.

The police investigation has focused on a diary entry made by Mr Sivakumar in which he referred to a visit by an organisation he called the "Tiger Boys" - since confirmed as a reference to the Tamil Tigers.

The men had demanded £15,000 and were due to return to his shop around the time of his murder in January this year.

Supporters of the Tamil Tigers are known to run ruthless fund raising rackets around London to help pay for the group's activities in Sri Lanka.

Police are also urgently seeking Jeyanthan Anandarajah, known as "Apan", an employee of the shopkeeper who was the last person to see him alive.

After the murder Apan returned to his family in Germany but he has since gone missing.

Detective Inspector Tim Wilkinson, the officer leading the murder hunt, said: "It is now one year since Mr Sivakumar was murdered. I know the Tiger Boys are the Tamil Tigers but we are keeping an open mind about the death. We are treating it as murder but it is possible his death was not intentional.

"The people who were there are the only people who know how he died. We will treat this as murder until someone comes forward and tells us that it was not."

Police are co-operating with the German authorities in the search for "Apan" and MrWilkinson said it was vital he contacted them.

A £20,000 reward had been offered for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of those responsible for the murder.

The separatist ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka has claimed more than 60,000 lives since 1972. More than 200 people have died in recent months after the collapse of a peace agreement brokered in 2002.

Anyone with information should telephone the incident room on 020 8345 4133 or ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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