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US war crimes questions for SLanka general: report

[AFP, Sunday, 1 November 2009 11:06 No Comment]

Sri Lanka’s top military commander, General Sarath Fonseka, is to be questioned by US authorities over allegations of war crimes during the island’s fight against Tamil Tiger rebels, a report said Sunday.

The privately-run Sunday Times newspaper said Fonseka, who is visiting his daughters in Oklahoma, had been asked to present himself for an interview with the Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday.

The move "prompted fears in Colombo that Washington is asserting its legal authority over the ‘war crimes’ report" released last month, the paper said referring to a State Department dossier on alleged war crimes.

The report outlined excesses by security forces and Tamil Tiger rebels during the final stages of fighting earlier this year. The report, submitted to the US Congress, refers to Fonseka having overstepped his brief.

There was no immediate comment from the Sri Lankan foreign ministry or the US embassy in Colombo, but the Sunday Times said the Sri Lankan embassy in Washington was providing legal assistance to Fonseka.

Fonseka is a US Green Card holder and travelled to the United States last week to visit his two daughters in Oklahoma.

The State Department report cited allegations in which Tamil rebels took boys and girls to join their guerrilla force and in which government forces broke a ceasefire as well as killed rebels who surrendered.

It also cited reports in which government troops or government-backed paramilitaries "abducted and in some instances then killed Tamil civilians, particularly children and young men."

The report covered the period from January — when fighting intensified — until the end of May, when Sri Lankan troops defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) at the end of a decades-old separatist conflict.

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