Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"SRI LANKAN EXECUTION VIDEO 'NOT FAKE" : Forensic Video Expert Grant Fredricks

A forensic video specialist says footage broadcast by Channel 4 News, appearing to show the summary execution of Tamil Tiger fighters, wasn't fabricated, as the Sri Lankan government has claimed.

It was a quick and violent end to a long and violent war; 80,000 dead; maybe 20,000 in what was called the No Fire Zone in the last few bloody weeks.

Tens of thousands of Tamil civilians caught up in the final showdown as artillery shells slammed down; both government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam accused of war crimes.

But journalists and independent investigators were denied access to the combat zone, and even after it was all over to eye-witnesses too. But reports still filtered out of unspeakable suffering.

Then, in August, this grim video was obtained by and broadcast by Channel 4 News.

The raw footage, a continuous shot one minute eight seconds long, purported to show the casual execution of eight bound, blindfolded, naked Tamil men by Sri Lankan government soldiers.

If this was what was claimed, this video would bolster international demands for an independent war crimes investigation - something the victorious Sri Lankan government has resisted.

The government denounced the controversial video as a fake, but the UN expert on extrajudicial killings wasn't convinced.

"This video tape seems to have most of the characteristics of a genuine article and that in itself is sufficient to impose an obligation on a government to undertake a sustained and effective impartial investigation to ascertain the truth." - Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur

The Sri Lankan government conducted four investigations and then announced to a roomful of foreign diplomats that they'd all concluded that the footage was doctored.

But some remained unconvinced by the "impartiality" of these findings, the US State Department among them.

Now, an independent expert in forensic video analysis has examined the footage, at the request of The Times. Grant Fredericks is a former policeman who works with the FBI as an expert witness.

He concluded that the video, consistent with a cell-phone recording, showed "no evidence of digital manipulation, editing or any other special effects."

The level of subtle detail, he said, could not have been virtually produced, citing the visible discharge of gas - from the barrel of the weapon and bleeding from the injury, which, he said, could not have been reproduced without special effects.

No errors exist anywhere to support a technical fabrication, he said.

"All the events that are purported to have taken place in the field of view of the camera are authentic.

"There's no signs of editing, there is no signs of any errors in the video. It's impossible to reproduce virtually in a computer environment." - Grant Fredericks, Forensics Video Analyst

Professor Rajiva Wijesinha from the Sri Lankan Ministry of Disaster Management responded:

"The technical reasons given by our expert are not even addressed by Mr Fredericks and I think that's rather sad because I think we have given the full background of our chap, who has also an international reputation and I think he is very good.

"So I'm afraid I don't find Mr Fredericks very convincing." - Professor Rajiva Wijesinha, Sri Lankan Ministry of Disaster Management

With a presidential election looming next month, there is growing dissent in the ranks of the leadership.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa's brother and defence minister has now been accused of ordering other such killings at the end of the war by a former army commander.

With their victory receding into the past, the cabal who won the war are now turning on each other and tonight Channel 4 News has learned that the UN's special rapporteur will soon announce the findings of another independent report into the executions' video.

Sri Lanka's first peace time election in decades will be haunted by the horrors of its war.

© Channel 4

Related Links:

Major General Jagath Dias assigned to investigate into JDS - Sri Lanka Guardian
Defence ministry asks German police help to probe JDS - Colombo Today
Technical analyst exposes 'C- 4' gutter journalism -
Channel 4 News summarily executes responsible journalism - The Nation
Channel 4 video an absolute fake: Experts - Sunday Observer
It's war crimes stupid! - The Island Editorial
Channel 4 Fake Video Footage: At last the Original has Emerged - Asian Tribune
Disprove analysis on Channel 4 video clip, says expert - Sunday Observer

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