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Ready to face any accusation: Rajapaksa

[Express Buzz, Tuesday, 15 December 2009 13:27 No Comment]

In sharp contrast to the statement of his electoral rival Gen.Sarath Fonseka, who revealed that Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa had ordered the killing of surrendering LTTE leaders, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said that he will not allow any war hero to be dragged before an international war crimes tribunal on this account, but will, instead, appear before it himself.

“I will never betray the Security Forces and am ready to face any accusation on behalf of the Security Forces that had made tremendous sacrifices for the nation,” Rajapaksa told representatives of 64 trade unions at his office here on Monday.

Certain forces in the opposition were engaged in denigrating the Security Forces, he noted, and appealed to them to desist from such action.

“I appeal to them not to level charges against the Security Forces but to level them against me,” Rajapaksa said raising his voice and his hand in a dramatic gesture. He described the Presidential election of January 26 as one between “the grateful and the ungrateful.”

Rajapaksa’s statement is in contrast to an earlier remark by Fonseka that he is not opposed to a war crimes probe if credible evidence of rights violations is given, because the Sri Lanka army does not have anything to hide.

While Rajapaksa has consistently opposed an international war crimes investigation or trial, Fonseka seems to have a different view, more in line with Western thinking on the subject.

Fonseka’s main supporter, the pro-West United National Party, is not against the internationalisation of the Sri Lankan conflict and has not resisted calls for a war crimes tribunal made by the Western powers.

Gen. Fonseka had said in a newspaper interview on Sunday, that he had been told by a journalist embedded with the 58 Division commanded by Maj.Gen.Shavindra Silva that Gotabaya Rajapaksa had ordered the killing of top LTTE leaders S.Puleedevan, B.Nadesan and Ramesh, if they came to surrender as per a previous agreement.

This had created a storm both in the Rajapaksa and the Fonseka electoral camps. The Rajapaksa camp described the indictment as a “great betrayal” of the nation. The incumbent Army Chief, Lt.Gen.Jagath Jayasuriya, echoed the sentiment in the same way.

Afraid that their candidate’s statement would take away chunks of voters from the majority Sinhalese community, Fonseka’s managers swiftly got him to withdraw it.

On Monday, Fonseka said that he had been misquoted and that he was sure that there were no breaches of international law by Sri Lankan troops.

He also said that he, as the then Army chief, owned full responsibility for everything that happened during the war.

He then went on to clarify that no terrorist leader had come anywhere near army lines to surrender waving white flags on May 17,18 or 19, as contended by those who spread the story that Puleedevan, Nadesan and Ramesh had come waving white flags during that period.

Fonseka contended that the trio had died fighting a pitched battle in a narrow strip of land.

About calls for ending the fighting made by certain countries, the ex-Army chief said that the war could not be stopped at that stage.

[Full Coverage]

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