Presidential Probe into Massacre of aid workers
Army and Navy exonerated
ACF must pay compensation for negligence
Severe strictures passed on several NGOs
There is strong evidence of LTTE presence in the city centre on the morning of the 4th August. A Rev. Father and a Divisional Secretary have also testified to the presence of the LTTE in the Mutur town on 4th August.
Army and the Navy have been totally exonerated by the Report of the Presidential Commission Inquiry into the Killing of the 17 aid workers of the INGO, Action Contre La Faim (ACF). The Commission led by Nissanka Udalagama, former Supreme Court Judge, has concluded that the death occurred on the morning of the 4th of August 2006.
The reports states:
"According to the statements until the night of 4th August the Mutur town and the surrounding area was subjected to LTTE attack. There is undisputable evidence that the LTTE were present in the Mutur town on the morning of the 4th August.
There is no evidence of any Army personnel being seen on the 4th in Mutur city centre. However, there is overwhelming evidence, in addition to TamilNet declaration that the LTTE were present in the town of Mutur on the 4th.
There is also the evidence of the death of Lance Corporal Ubayasekera succumbing to gunshot injuries caused from the direction of the town area whilst he was on duty in the marshland adjacent to the Mutur Police station on the morning of the 4th August. This fatal shot had been fired from the direction of the town by the LTTE. Therefore, there is strong evidence of LTTE presence in the city centre on the morning of the 4th August. A Rev. Father and a Divisional Secretary have also testified to the presence of the LTTE in the Mutur town on 4th August."
A report of the UTHR(J) implicated Sri Lanka Naval Special Forces in the killings. The charge has been debunked by the Commission which in the report states, "The evidence does not disclose the presence of the commandos anywhere near the ACF office during the period, that is, on the morning afternoon or evening of the 4th. There are no Naval Special Forces in the Navy. Furthermore, the ballistic expert has identified the weapons used for the death of the 17 workers as T-56 weapons; weapons identified in the UTHR (J) report as the instrument of death does not include T-56 weapons."
The Report states there has been gross negligence on the part of the ACF office and has made the recommendation of payment of 10 years salary to their next of kin by the ACF.
"The workers were pleading to save their lives and to go out of the office. But they were stubbornly told by the Trincomalee ACF office not to leave the office and stay together as it would be difficult for the ACF to collect them if they leave and go to the camps. ACF was looking more for their comfort and convenience than that of the safety and security of their workers. They, by their conduct, before the Commission established this fact, by abandoning the cause of their deceased employees, by leaving the Commission without notice, left the families of the deceased in the lurch. In fact, one family member of a deceased complained in writing to the Commission the plight he was faced with and having to seek the assistance of the counsel for the Army/Navy to have the compensation package enhanced."
The Commission has passed strictures on the seven civil society organisations consisting of Centre for Policy Alternatives, Home for Human Rights, INFORM, Law and Society Trust, Mothers and Daughters of Lanka, Right Now -collective for Democracy and Sri Lanka National Commission of Jurists.
The lawyers who represented the said organisations and the next of kin though purportedly watching matters of public interest as set out in the civil society mandate placed in writing before the Commission, showed total disregard in matters affecting the interests of the deceased persons’ next of kin. This aspect should have been the prime fact of concern in terms of the mandate presented to show their interest and gain representation in the case but they appeared to be more anxious to safeguard the interest of the foreign based NGO, the ACF. It was said that their contribution was negligible with regard to enhancing the compensation package due to the next of kin, which should have been a matter in which they should have interested themselves. Instead they left it to the others who assisted the Commission."
"It appears there has been a preconceived plan or a conspiracy to discredit the Commission by making false allegations and or exaggerating and twisting the truth to suit their purpose in order to achieve the long term objective of interested parties including their paymasters to discredit and disrupt the Commission for the consumption of some international organisations.’
Mr. R. K. W. Goonesekera represented the unofficial bar for the prosecution. Mr. Yasantha Kodagoda with Dulip Jayakody and Lakmali Karunanyake represented the Commission.
Gomin Dayasri and Manoli Jinadasa appeared for the Army and Navy with Army/Navy legal officers.