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Sri Lanka denies malicious war crimes charges

[Reuters, Monday, 14 December 2009 11:00 No Comment]

Sri Lanka on Monday denounced reported accusations by a general now running for president that government troops shot dead surrendering Tamil Tiger rebels on their way to winning a 25-year old civil war in May.

General Sarath Fonseka, who is challenging president Mahinda Rajapaksa in a January election, was quoted in a pro-opposition newspaper as saying senior rebels, who were to surrender with white flags on May 17, were ordered to be killed by the government.

The government said it had sought legal advice over the article in the Sunday Leader.

"The government totally denies this allegation," Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinge told reporters.

Fonseka’s successor, Lieutenant-General Jagath Jayasuriya, labelled the accusation as a betrayal.

"We reject this malicious allegations against our heroic soldiers," he said.

The top rebels were killed after they were asked to surrender by government officials with white flags, following negotiations through Norway, the International Committee of the Red Cross and some diplomatic channels, the newspaper report said.

Fonseka told a news conference on Sunday he was in China when the incident took place, a day before the government declared victory in the war after killing rebel chief Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Fonseka and Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa led the government campaign in a bitter end to one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies, which aimed to create a separate homeland for the island’s Tamil minority.

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