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Last Updated: Friday, 12 August 2005, 23:46 GMT 00:46 UK
Obituary: Lakshman Kadirgamar
Former Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar (file pic)
Lakshman Kadirgamar was an Oxford-educated lawyer
Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, shot dead in the capital Colombo, was a key political figure.

An Oxford-educated lawyer, he served under President Chandrika Kumaratunga as foreign minister from 1994 to 2001 and again from 2004 until his murder.

He was a member of the minority Tamil community and a determined opponent of the Tamil Tiger separatist rebels.

Suspicion for the attack has fallen on the Tigers, for whom the 73-year-old proved a tough opponent.

Mr Kadirgamar claimed credit for having the Tigers banned in several countries, including the UK and the US.

Long conflict

A close advisor to the president, he was one of the most closely guarded ministers in the cabinet and had warned he was a potential target for the rebels.

He was a Tamil Christian from Jaffna, the northern heartland of Tamil separatism, but was strongly opposed to the militant campaign led by the Tamil Tigers.

He was also a vocal critic of the Tigers' alleged human rights abuses, particularly the recruitment of child soldiers.

Mr Kadirgamar criticised the Norwegian-led Sri Lankan peace process, questioning whether foreigners could broker a deal with the separatists without giving too much away.

However, he maintained that the country's three-decade-long conflict must be resolved through peaceful negotiations.

Outspoken critic

Mr Kadirgamar made a bid for the top job in the Commonwealth in 2003, attempting unsuccessfully to oust New Zealand's Don McKinnon as secretary-general.

Entering politics in 1994 after practising law in Sri Lanka and London, he courted some controversy during his political career.

During his first stint as foreign minister, he told the UN to stay out of the island's conflict and concentrate on "malaria and mosquitoes".

He also called an Australian decision to boycott a cricket match in Sri Lanka in 1996 after a bomb attack a "hostile act".

He was regarded as a world expert on intellectual property law and was president of the Oxford Union in 1959.

Mr Kadirgamar leaves his wife Suganthie and two children, Ragi and Ajitha, from his marriage to his first wife, Angela.


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