Mystery of the Murder of an American Priest in Batticaloa

The truth that came out 30 years later!

[translated from the Tamil by Google Translate with some edits]

by Niraj David, TamilWin, ~December 15, 2021


Rev Fr. Eugene John Hebert

His name was Rev Fr. Eugene John Hebert. The locals affectionately call him Father Haybier.

He belonged to Congregation of Jesus Christ of America and was a famous human rights activist.

He went missing on August 15, 1990 while serving in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka, especially in Batticaloa.

He consecrated himself at the age of 17 and the people of Batticaloa still remember with gratitude that he devoted himself entirely to the betterment of the people of Batticaloa.

Following the outbreak of war between the Sri Lankan government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in June 1990, anti-Tamil Muslim sentiment was deliberately created there.

On August 15, 1990, after evacuating the Tamil people, Christian clergy and nuns who had been besieged by the army and the Muslim homeguards in the Valaichenai area, he was seen riding his motorbike with a Tamil youth, Betram Francis, on his way from Valaichenai towards Batticaloa. In a town called Eravur he went missing.

It has been a mystery for the past 30 years as to what happened to the American priest who had left  Valaichenai with his driver.

Despite speculation that they may have been abducted in the Eravur Muslim village, what actually happened remains a mystery.

When the search for the missing members was carried out in the Eravur area, it was possible to find out the details of what had actually happened that day.

Two eyewitnesses to the missing confirmed the incident. Eyewitnesses say Eugene John Hebert and his driver, Betram Francis, were hacked and burned alive by Muslim homeguards who called themselves the ‘Friday Army’.

They were at a place called ‘Karikkoochiyadi (Coal fired train)’ on a small road near the Eravur railway line and it is learned that they were killed before the eyes of the Sri Lankan army.

It was a time of fierce fighting between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan forces. It was a time when tension between Tamils and Muslims was at its peak.

Since the main highway from Valaichenai to Batticaloa passes through the Muslim-majority city of Eravur, it is believed that Father Habert may have chosen the railway line that encircles the Eravur Muslim area instead of passing through it.

At that time there was not much movement of people in the area beyond the playground of Eravur Aligarh Maha Vidyalaya.

It has now been reported that the Muslim Home Guard, the Friday Army, shot at Father Herbert and Betrum Francis, who were traveling along the route, and then stabbed them  and then burned them alive by placing thier bodies on a tire.

The person who witnessed the incident told us, “I still remember the white priest scolding and shouting in English and Tamil.”

Eyewitnesses confirmed that the incident took place at a place called ‘Karikochiyadi’.

Rev. Fr. Eugene Hebert





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