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|May 12, 1999||
Lankans deny role in death threats for Darrell Hair
The Australasian Federation of Tamil Associations has denied having any role in the death threats issued to Australian umpire Darrell Hair. In a statement released to the media, it said: ''The Federation is astonished that the reports should accuse the Tamils of targeting an umpire who was mercilessly slandered and demonstrated against by the Sri Lankans for doing his duty."
Hair had received a letter, posted from Harrow, England, warning the veteran of 28 Tests that his life was in danger. He gave a copy of it to the Australian Cricket Board and the International Cricket Council (ICC). The letter said, "We have representatives of our people throughout all major nations of the world and we will take action against you for what you have done''.
Hair, 46, is the only Australian representative in the 12-man panel that will officiate during the 40-day cricket World Cup. He had received death threats from Sri Lankan Tamil separatists after he became the first umpire to no-ball Muttiah Muralitharan for throwing. He no-balled Muralitharan in a Test in Melbourne in December 1995 and subsequently called the off-spinner's action "diabolical'' in his autobiography, released last year. To avoid any problems during the World Cup, he hasn't been assigned any Sri Lanka match.
Muralitharan is the only Tamil in the 15-man Sri Lankan squad. He was no-balled recently by another Australian umpire, Ross Emerson, despite being cleared by the ICC technical committee.
Yesterday, Hair stood in South Africa's World Cup warm-up match against Middlesex at Southgate, just eight km east of Harrow.
The Tamil extremists have been fighting for a separate homeland in the northeast of Sri Lanka since 1983.
"Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam is a liberation movement waging a war for liberation ... (they) have never been known to target foreigners in Sri Lanka or overseas."
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