UN renews war crimes charges against Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has strongly opposed a move by the UN to reveal the findings of an analysis of the authenticity of the "Channel 4 videotape" containing footage from northern Sri Lanka during a special briefing at the UN on January 7.

Foreign Secretary Romesh Jayasinghe has, in a communiqué to Professor Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions, requested him not to make a public statement without giving the Sri Lankan government adequate time to study what Alston called a technical note containing opinions expressed by three foreign experts retained by the UN.

The controversial footage, allegedly taken by a soldier last January, was aired on August 25, 2009. Interestingly, Alston quoted Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka (JDS), widely believed to be based in Germany as his source which asserted that the video had been made last January.

Based on the opinion obtained from experts in forensic pathology, Forensic video analysis, and firearm evidence, Alston informed the Sri Lankan government on Wednesday (January 6) of his decision to issue a public statement the following day.

Emphasising that experts hired by him had invalidated most of the arguments of Sri Lankan experts, including two, who worked for the armed forces, Alston called for an independent inquiry into war crimes charges as well as other serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.

Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama told The Island that the government had received the technical note at 6.00 p.m. on Wednesday and it would be unreasonable to go public the following day before the Sri Lankan government could study the issue. Such a course of action would be unfair and considered another example of biased pre-judgement, the Minister said.

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