US rejects top SL officers over ‘accountability issues’

GoSL alleges decision unfair


By Shamindra Ferdinando

The US has refused to include Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Jagath Dias and Military Secretary Maj. Gen. Sudantha Ranasinghe in a military programme, scheduled to be held in Auckland, New Zealand during the second week of September, citing accountability issues.

They were among three Majors General nominated by army headquarters for ‘Pacific Army Management seminar’ scheduled to begin on Sept. 9. The US accepted the nomination of Boniface Perera, current Security Forces Commander, Vanni.

Veteran Gajaba Regiment officer Dias commanded the 57 Division which fought on the Central front during eelam war IV. Government sources told The Island that the 57 Division hadn’t been accused of any specific atrocities during the Vanni campaign, whereas Ranasinghe wasn’t involved in the campaign at all. At the conclusion of the conflict in May 2009, Ranasinghe as the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation played a pivotal role in reintegration of ex-LTTE personnel to civil society.

The US on Monday informed army headquarters of its decision. Maj. Gen. Ranasinghe’s nomination for another US sponsored project was rejected several months ago on the basis he commanded the 53 Division involved in operations in the Jaffna and Vanni theatres. Subsequently, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa brought to the notice of the US Embassy that Ranasinghe was in command of the division during peace time.

Sources pointed out that the US Defence Attaché in Colombo went to the extent of assuring Maj. Gen. Ranasinghe that he would be picked up for the following programme as he had been deprived of a visit without reason. The US Defence Attaché visited army headquarters on the invitation, of former army commander the then Lt. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya, who took up the issue.

Sources said that former US Ambassador Patricia Butenis had been the Guest of Honour at an art exhibition organized by the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation at the art gallery to give an opportunity for the ex-LTTE cadres to display their talents.

Asked whether the government would take it up with the US, sources said that since the conclusion of the conflict Maj. Gen. Shavendra Silva, the first General Officer Commanding (GOC) the celebrated 58 Division, Maj. Gen Prasanna Silva, the war time GOC of the 55 Division as well as Jaffna Security Forces Commander Maj. Gen. Mahinda Hathurusinghe had not been allowed to join US programmes. In the case of Maj. Gen. Silva, Sri Lanka’s Deputy Permanent Representative in New York was denied entry into War College.

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