Sri Lanka ex-army head says can answer war crimes allegations
COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka's former army chief, who led the military to victory at the end of a three-decade conflict against Tamil Tiger rebels, has said he is ready to face questions about allegations of war crimes.
Sri Lanka is under Western and U.N. pressure to conduct an independent investigation into conduct during the war where, rights groups say, the former army chief and others are implicated in shooting fighters as they sought to surrender.
Sarath Fonseka told reporters he was ready to answer questions on his record in a war in whose final months, in 2009, tens of thousands of civilians were killed, according to a U.N. panel.
"If somebody is shy and tries to hide from facing questions, then obviously, people will start suspecting more and more," Fonseka told a Foreign Correspondents' Association forum late on Tuesday.
"In my case I have no problem like that and I am ready to answer anybody and clarify any doubt. If anybody questions me, I am ready to answer," he said.
Fonseka said the military under his command fought the war professionally according to international law and he was confident they had not violated human rights. If there was "specific evidence" which merited an inquiry, he said: "If anybody questions me I will answer. I'm ready to answer."
The U.N. Human Rights Council has called on Sri Lanka to investigate human rights violations during and after the war. The government says it has been implementing the recommendations via a local commission as requested by the United Nations.
Since the war ended, Fonseka has fallen out with the government and served jail time for crimes including corruption and engaging in politics while in uniform.
Fonseka ran for president in 2010 but lost to Mahinda Rajapaksa who has ruled the island state since 2005. Rights groups also say Rajapaksa has not addressed the war crimes allegations, something he denies.
Still popular among many Sri Lankans, Fonseka is seen as a potential political threat to Rajapaksa, despite the fact that his jail record means he cannot run for election for the next seven years. (Writing by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this
- Rihanna, CBS bench opening number for Thursday football
- Apple iPhone 6 pre-orders hit record 4 million on first day
- Google launches $105 Android One; eyes low-price smartphone boom
- Coke, J&J join big corporations behind new employee wellness push
- Citing security threat, Obama expands U.S. role fighting Ebola
India said on Tuesday it would firmly defend its 3,500-km-long border with China after domestic media reported a new face-off on the disputed frontier, just days ahead of a visit by President Xi Jinping. Full Article
Give the public a role in Clean Ganga project, says Rajendra Pachauri Full Article
India to decide on diesel deregulation after state polls - oil ministry source. Full Article
For Oscar-winning Tanovic, Emraan Hashmi’s “serial kisser” tag didn’t matter. Full Article