The Sri Lankan government has accused the former head of the country's military of "betrayal" after he alleged senior officials ordered the killing of surrendering Tamil Tiger leaders during the last days of the country's civil war.
General Sarath Fonseka said in comments published in a national newspaper on Sunday that Sri Lanka's defence minister, Gotabhaya Rajapakse, had told military commanders that no prisoners should be taken during the final offensive in May.
Speaking to the Sunday Leader, Fonseka was quoted as saying Rajapakse had ordered "they must all be killed", referring to leaders of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Fonseka led the army's final offensive against the LTTE, but later fell out with the president and the defence secretary.
Responding to the claims, Sri Lanka's human rights minister, Mahinda Samarasinghe, accused Fonseka of lying.
In a statement posted on a government website, he said Fonseka's allegations were "the greatest ever betrayal based on an untruth, ever made in the history of this country".
Fonseka later appeared to try to distance himself from the Sunday Leader report, saying he had been misquoted.
Al Jazeera's Minelle Fernandez, reporting from Colombo, said Fonseka told reporters he had been told of the order by a journalist who had been embedded with the military at the time.
Fonseka has not identified the journalist involved.
The only four-star general to have served in the Sri Lankan military, Fonseka said he was away in China when the alleged orders were given.
He said he had not been aware that the defence minister was giving direct orders to officers in the field in the final stages of battle.
Fonseka said it was not until after the war had ended that he learnt that senior Tiger rebels had used foreign mediators to organise a plan in which they would carry white flags and give themselves up.
Fonseka is contesting upcoming presidential elections against the defence minister's brother, President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
A spokesman for the Sri Lankan military gave no comment on Fonseka's allegations.
"This is a comment given by General Fonseka and he will come out with many more," Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara told the AFP news agency.
"We will not comment on what he says."
The Sri Lankan government claimed victory over the LTTE on May 18 after the army wiped out the rebel leadership in a final fierce battle.
Velupillai Prabhakaran, the group's founder, was killed in the fighting and his body shown on national television.
Sri Lankan authorities have resisted international calls for a investigation into allegations of war crimes committed during the conflict after the United Nations alleged that more than 7,000 civilians were killed during the first four months of this year alone.
Fonseka has said he will consider ordering an investigation if he is elected president.
© Al Jazeera
Sri Lanka accuses General Sarath Fonseka of 'betrayal' - BBC
Army Chief says troops faced their biggest betrayal - Daily Mirror
Nobody was carrying white flags that night: General Fonseka - adaderana.lk
Monday, December 14, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Sri Lankan troops shot dead surrendering Tamil Tiger leaders on the orders of the defence secretary, the former chief of the army who is now running for president said in remarks published on Sunday.
Sarath Fonseka said Gotabhaya Rajapakse, brother of the current president, instructed soldiers not to take rebel prisoners in the days before the Tamil separatists were defeated in May after decades of bloody ethnic conflict.
"Gotabhaya Rajapakse spoke with Brigadier Shavendra Silva, commander of the army's 58th division, giving orders not to accommodate any LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) leaders attempting to surrender and that they must all be killed," Fonseka said.
He told the privately run Sunday Leader newspaper that senior Tamil Tigers had used foreign mediators to organise a plan in which they would carry white flags and give themselves up to the army.
Fonseka led the army's successful offensive but later fell out with President Mahinda Rajapakse and defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse.
He resigned last month, accusing the government of sidelining him, and is now attempting to unseat President Rajapakse in elections on January 26.
The government has previously denied ordering troops to kill Tamil Tiger political wing leader B. Nadesan, senior rebel S. Puleedevan and another Tiger official and their families. Fonseka made no mention of the leaders' families.
Sri Lankan authorities have resisted international calls for a war crimes investigation amid allegations by the United Nations that more than 7,000 civilians were killed during the first four months of this year alone.
The government's military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara declined to comment on Fonseka's remarks.
"This is a comment given by General Fonseka and he will come out with many more," Nanayakkara said. "We will not comment on what he says."
The military claimed victory over the LTTE on May 18 after wiping out the leadership of the once-powerful movement, which began its armed struggle in 1972.
© The Age
Sri Lanka Top EX Army General accepts War Crimes - CNN
'Lankan army killed surrendering LTTE leaders' - Rediff.com
Lanka Army killed surrendering LTTE militants: Ex-General - The Times of India
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