Lankan probe panel confirms war crimes by Army

RSTV Bureau
File Photo ( PTI )

File Photo ( PTI )

A probe panel set up by the Sri Lankan government has confirmed that war crimes were committed by the Sri Lankan Army during its conflict with the Tamil rebels. The probe panel report has backed UNHRC’s recommendation that foreign judges should have a role in domestic inquiry.

“There are credible allegations which, if proved to the required standard, may show that some members of the armed forces committed acts during the final phase of the war that amounted to war crimes giving rise to individual criminal responsibility,” said the 178-page report of probe panel, which was commissioned by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The report by retired judge Maxwell Paranagama has also called for an independent judicial investigation into war crimes allegations and it has also proposed to set up a separate war crimes division within the Sri Lankan legal system.

The Paranagama commission has said that there was evidence to suggest that the footage obtained by the Channel 4 documentary, No Fire Zone, was genuine. The documentary shows Sri Lankan soldiers executing Tamil prisoners. Earlier, the Sri Lankan army had dismissed the documentary as a false.

The allegation against the Lankan Army was that it had executed top LTTE members after they had surrendered at the end of war. The probe panel has said that despite some conflicting evidence, the alleged illegal killings, together with the killing of those who surrendered, must be the subject of an independent judge-led investigation.

“The Commission is of the view that the material shown in Channel 4 – shorn of its theatrical and dramatic presentation and of the occasionally extravagant language used – does show, however, that there was material enough to justify a judge-led investigation,” the Paranagama commission report said.

The report also said that all cases of those who allegedly died while in the custody of the Sri Lanka Army must also be probed.

Government’s report has thoroughly backed the UN Human Rights Council report, which came out last month. The panel recommended that international judges should have a role to ensure the credibility of any investigation into war crimes.

The Paranagama report, dated August 2015 was tabled in parliament on Tuesday.

(With inputs from PTI)