Monday, August 01, 2011

Channel 4 stands by credibility of eye witnesses

By Janith Aranze | The Sunday Leader

In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Leader via email, the Channel 4 journalist featured in the new footage released this week, Jonathan Miller, has steadfastly stood by the credibility of the eye-witnesses featured in the film. Miller who conducted the interviews with the two eye witnesses is in no doubt of their credibility. “We do not air allegations from witnesses, (particularly allegations of this nature) without first authenticating their bona-fides to the high standards expected of us by our lawyers, and the British broadcasting regulator, Ofcom,” Miller told The Sunday Leader.

He went onto explain that it is now up to others to judge the credibility of the eye witnesses. “My editors and I are more than satisfied with the credibility of the eye-witnesses. It is up to you to decide whether to trust the integrity of our journalism when it comes to your judging their credibility,” he said.

Miller also stated that he simply cannot reveal how he got in contact with the two eye-witnesses for fear of their safety. “These witnesses were in fear of their lives, and remain so. So fearful were they that we agreed to their total anonymity, which included our using actors’ voices to disguise their identities. We take our responsibility to protect our sources very seriously. One was prepared to be identified as an army officer, the other was not prepared to be identified at all,” Miller states.In the new film aired this week on July 27, two men from the Sri Lanka Army’s 58th Division according to Channel 4, were interviewed on what they had witnessed during the last stages of the war. The two eyewitnesses had their images completely concealed and their voices had been muted fully and dubbed over with English actors’ voices.

One eyewitness reportedly from the 58th Division claims that Brigadier Shavendra Silva addressed his brigade telling them he had received a telephone call from the Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. Shavendra Silva had told his officers that the orders from Gotabhaya Rajapaksa were to finish the job by whatever means necessary. The eyewitness reportedly claims Shavendra Silva said, “This is a very decisive day for us. Last night I got a call from the Defence Secretary, he said we only have a small chunk of land to capture. Do whatever it takes, by noon I should hear good news from you. If you need any further instructions call me, finish it off in the way it has to be done.”

The second eyewitness, reportedly an officer in the SLA’s 58th Division claims that Tamil Tiger leaders were ordered to be shot by Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Brigadier Shavendra Silva.

Quote, “Two majors were ordered to receive the Tiger leaders. The Defence Secretary phoned Brigadier Shavendra Silva and ordered him not to take them prisoner but to kill them. I can confidently state those who ordered the killing were Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Brigadier Shavendra Silva,” unquote… the eyewitness recollected.

At the end of the film, Jonathan Miller is shown having doorstepped General Shavendra Silva, currently Sri Lanka’s Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN. Miller confronts Silva outside the United Nations building in New York and questions him about alleged war crimes committed in Sri Lanka.

Silva vehemently denies the claims saying, “It is only you and your channel that are accusing us of war crimes, nobody else is.” Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has also since said that the British Government should take action against Channel 4 for what he described as ‘irresponsible videos.’ Rajapaksa had immediately denounced the video saying it has misleading information. “They quote two people claiming to be soldiers and alleging that the executions were done by us. These are false propaganda,” he stated.

© The Sunday Leader

Bookmark and Share

No comments:

Post a Comment

© 2009 - 2014 Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  © Blogger template 'Fly Away' by 2008

Back to TOP