Sri Lanka re­jects find­ings on war ex­e­cu­tions video

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka has re­jected as in­con­sis­tent the find­ings of a trio of UN-ap­pointed in­ves­ti­ga­tors who said they doubted a video show­ing ap­par­ent ex­e­cu­tions by Sri Lankan sol­diers was a fake.

The re­ac­tion came af­ter Philip Alston, UN spe­cial re­porter on ex­tra­ju­di­cial ex­e­cu­tions, on Thurs­day urged an in­de­pen­dent probe af­ter a foren­sic pathol­o­gist, a foren­sic video an­a­lyst and a firearms ex­pert con­cluded the video was prob­a­bly real.

Bri­tain’s Chan­nel 4 televi- sion aired a video last year that it said shows gov­ern­ment troops killing un­armed, naked, bound and blind­folded men dur­ing the army’s fi­nal as­sault to smash the Tamil Tiger rebels.

The gov­ern­ment im­me­di­ately re­jected it as a fraud per­pe­trated by Tamil Tiger sup­port­ers an­gry the sep­a­ratist group had been de­feated, and said its own in­ves­ti­ga­tion, us­ing Sri Lankan civil­ian and mil­i­tary ex­perts, had found it was doc­tored.

“We re­ject th­ese al­lega- tions,” For­eign Min­is­ter Ro­hitha Bo­gol­lagama said yes­ter­day. “In light of those con­tin­ued con­tra­dic­tory find­ings, we can’t ac­cept it.”

He was re­fer­ring to some de­tails Alston said the ex­perts were un­able to ex­plain, like the move­ment of cer­tain vic­tims, 17 frames at the end of the video and the fact that the date en­coded in the video – July 17, 2009 – is a month af­ter the war ended.

None­the­less, all three con­cluded the footage was prob­a­bly gen­uine, Alston said.

Bo­gol­lagama said that the gov­ern­ment was still prob­ing the video and other al­le­ga­tions of war crimes through a pres­i­den­tial panel of Sri Lankan ex­perts. Alston has voiced doubts that a Sri Lankan probe will be im­par­tial.

UN sec­re­tary-gen­eral Ban Ki-moon is con­sid­er­ing set­ting up an ex­pert panel to ad­vise him on the mat­ter and help the Sri Lankan gov­ern­ment to ad­dress pos­si­ble vi­o­la­tions.

Bo­gol­lagama also said Alston had vi­o­lated diplo­matic pro­to­col by mak­ing his find- ings pub­lic be­fore dis­cussing it with the Sri Lankan gov­ern­ment.

Sri Lanka’s gov­ern­ment has re­peat­edly de­nied that its forces were guilty of war crimes or hu­man rights breaches in the last months of its 25-year war against the Tamil Tigers.

The gov­ern­ment de­clared to­tal victory in May. – Reuters

The Chan­nel 4 video footage can be seen at www.chan­­ti­cles/world/ asi­a_­pa­cific/ex­e­cu­tion.

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