Two pieces of bones in Mannar mass grave bear signs of torture


An official going through documents at the Mannar mass grave site. Pic by Dinasena Ratugamage

By Dinasena Rathugamage

The discovery of two pieces of human bones, bound by a cable, has caused serious concern to the experts engaged in excavating the Mannar mass grave; they wonder whether some of the people buried there had been tortured.

The two pieces of bone were recovered on Friday (7).

Mannar District Judge M. Swarnaraj visited the grave site to inspect the skeletal remains. The two bones had been stored securely for further investigations on the orders of the court, Judicial Medical Officer of the General Hospital, Mannar, Dr. Saminda Rajapaksa said.

Dr. Rajapaksa said that they had unearthed skeletal remains belonging to 266 persons and 260 of them had been removed from the grave for further investigations.

Dr. Rajapaksa said that they would have to proceed further from first and second phase digs to expand the excavation.

The human skeletal remains were first found by some construction workers while excavating the site behind the CWE Building in Mannar as part of a development project on May 25. On the same day a complaint was lodged with the Mannar Police of the findings. Investigations began under the supervision of former Mannar Magistrate Alex Raja. Excavations commenced, on May 28, after it was determined by a team of scientists that the area contained undisturbed skeletons.

The police produced parts of skeletal remains before the Mannar District Judge and the judge ordered the police to excavate the site under the supervision of experts.

As the excavation work continued and more and more skeletal remains were recovered, it was concluded that the place was a mass grave.

Judge J.T. Prabhakaran, who succeeded Judge Alex Raja, as District Judge Mannar gave some important rulings with regard to the mass grave. The excavations of the site are now being carried out under the supervision of incumbent Mannar Magistrate Swarnaraj.

Prof. Raj Somadeva, who leads the forensic archaeological investigation into the grave said that they were yet to date the skeletal remains scientifically. Prof Somadeva said that one section of the grave contained skeletal remains in a pattern that could be observed easily while the other section did not show such specific pattern.

Of the skeletal remains found from the grave so far, 18 were of children, he said adding that there were skeletal remains of females as it could be inferred from the pieces of jewellery and accessories found along with them. Some skeletons showed the embrace position; he said adding that it was too early to assign a date or an identity to those skeletons.

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