Thursday, December 31, 2009

War crimes probe request 'referred'

The Sri Lankan government says it is seeking advice on a request by the United Nations for a war crimes probe.

Sri Lanka's defence ministry said on Tuesday that a letter by UN Special Rapporteur on Extra- judicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions Philip Alston has been referred "for advice on the cause of action to be taken on the issues".

UN has requested Sri Lanka government to send its observations over media reports that senior LTTE leaders who tried to surrender were killed in cold blood.

The Defence Ministry in a statement said that the request has been referred by the president to a special committee.

'Sunday Leader' report

The committee, chaired by DS Wijesinghe PC, was earlier appointed by president Rajapaksa to study a report by the US Department of State in October on incidents during the final days of the war in Sri Lanka.

Time given to the Committee to study and report on the US State Department Report has been extended up to April 2009, by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, says the defence ministry.

War crimes allegedly committed by the Sri Lankan military once again came to prominence after an interview with Sunday Leader newspaper by main opposition candidate, Gen (retd.) Sarath Fonseka.

Sunday Leader on the 13th of December reported that Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has ordered field commanders to kill all LTTE cadres including those who wished to surrender.

Among those tried to surrender at the last stage of the conflict were LTTE political wing head, B Nadesan and head of peace secretariat S Pulithevan.

Denying having accused the forces of killing those came to surrender, Gen Fonseka later said he takes responsibility for everything happened during the last stages of war.

However, Sunday Leader Editor Frederica Jansz earlier told BBC Sandeshaya that she stood by the story and is in possession of the voice recording of the interview.

Gen Fonseka has, meanwhile, sent a letter of demand to Sunday Leader on Monday, seeking Rs. 500 million as compensation.

© BBC Sinhala

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