Colombo, May 17 (PTI) A Sri Lankan court has remanded till May 30 the five suspects, including a retired Major General, arrested in connection with a human smuggling operation to send former military personnel to serve in the Russian and Ukrainian forces amidst their ongoing war.

The Sri Lankan mercenaries had joined the Russian and Ukrainian forces after unscrupulous foreign employment agencies misled them in the name of foreign employment, according to police.

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The former major, a Sergeant of the Sri Lanka Army and three people from a foreign employment agency had facilitated the ex-military personnel's travel by charging large sums of money.

All the suspects were on Thursday produced before the Negombo Magistrate's Court which remanded them till May 30. Steps have been also taken to temporarily suspend the licence of the foreign employment agency in question.

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The relatives say some of these retired Army personnel, who had departed in March, had made no contact with them since and urged government intervention to locate them.

Sri Lanka blamed unscrupulous employment agencies and ex-servicemen for being part of the racket.

The state minister of foreign affairs Tharaka Balasuriya said President Ranil Wickremesinghe had instructed the foreign minister Ali Sabry to send a high-powered delegation to Russia to look into the matter.

Balasuriya said a large number of Sri Lankans had gone to Russia under tourist visas.

“Among them were a significant number of retired military personnel”, Balasuriya said.

Sri Lankan defence ministry admitted at least 16 retired military personnel have been killed in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.

It is believed between 600-800 Sri Lankans are currently serving on the war front in both Russia and Ukraine due to this human trafficking operation.

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from Syndicated News feed, LatestLY Staff may not have modified or edited the content body)