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US: 170 alleged ‘war crimes’ between May 2 and 18

[Sunday Times.lk, Sunday, 25 October 2009 09:22 No Comment]

A 68 page US State Department report presented to Congress on Thursday contains details of alleged “atrocities” by both the military and Tiger guerrillas during the final stages of the war in May this year.

The report prepared by the War Crimes office in the State Department lists 170 incidents between May 2 and 18. It is based mostly on internal reports to Washington from the US Embassy in Colombo, satellite imagery, international relief organizations and media outlets.

The report alleges that thousands of Tamil civilians were gunned down by Tiger guerrillas seeking to use them as human shields or killed in what it calls “indiscriminate government shelling.” Stephen Rapp, the US Ambassador at large for war crimes issues has said that the Government of Sri Lanka should investigate the allegations.

In the first official response to the report, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that the report “appears to be unsubstantiated and devoid of corroborative evidence.” It accused vested interests of endeavouring to bring the Government of Sri Lanka into disrepute, through “fabricated allegations and concocted stories.”

Official sources said yesterday that a further Government response on the matter is expected after tomorrow. This is after President Mahinda Rajapaksa, due to return from an official visit to Vietnam yesterday, confers with Ministers and officials.

The State Department document said: “The United States recognizes a state’s right to defend itself from armed attacks, including those by non-state actors such as terrorist groups. The United States also expects states and non-state actors to comply with their international legal obligations.

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