Sri Lankan army chief calls for intl probe into war crimes

Colombo: Asserting that Sri Lanka has “nothing to fear”, the former army chief who led the victorious military campaign against the LTTE today called for an international probe into alleged war crimes committed during the last phase of the country’s brutal civil war.

Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka who led the victorious military campaign and is now a minister said international probe into the alleged war crimes was a welcome step.

“As the Commander of the troops then I welcome the call for any international investigation. We have nothing to fear. Let there be international investigators and experts,” Fonseka, 65, said while addressing the parliament.

“If one or two had committed crimes, they need to be punished. The overall dignity and honour of the troops must be protected,” Fonseka said, adding that he led the war adhering to all internationally accepted conventions.

On the controversial White Flag incident where the government troops were accused of killing the senior LTTE leaders who had come to surrender with white flags, Fonseka said the incident must be investigated and people must be told the truth.

“I was jailed for three years for saying this” said Fonseka who was given the jail term for his comments made to a newspaper on the White Flag during the presidential campaign of 2010 when he challenged incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa. Rajapaksa later pardoned Fonseka and released him from jail.

He backed the current President Maithripala Sirisena in the presidential election last year when Rajapaksa’s 10-year rule came to an end. He was inducted as minister for Regional Development last month.

The UN Human Rights Council has recommended an international investigation into the happenings of the last phase and alleged war crimes blamed both on the government troops and the LTTE.

According to the UN figure, 40,000 people were killed during the final phase of the conflict against Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009

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