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Sri Lanka says UN war crimes panel ‘unwarranted’

[AFP, Saturday, 6 March 2010 18:11 No Comment]

Rajapakse said appointing a panel was "totally uncalled for and unwarranted" - afp Sri Lanka’s president Saturday rejected a proposed panel by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to look into alleged war crimes during the island’s civil war as "unwarranted and uncalled for."

President Mahinda Rajapakse views Ban’s plan for the panel to advise him on "accountability issues" involving the final phase of fighting with Tamil rebels last year as interference in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs, his office said.

Rajapakse was "emphatic" in his objections when Ban, in a telephone conversation Friday, disclosed his intention to set up the panel of experts, the president’s office said in a statement.

The president had "pointed out that the intention of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to appoint a panel of experts to advise him (Ban) on Sri Lanka is totally uncalled for and unwarranted," the statement said.

"No such action had been taken about other states with continuing armed conflicts on a large scale, involving major humanitarian catastrophes and causing the deaths of large numbers of civilians due to military action."

Rajapakse told Ban the appointment of such a panel would compel Sri Lanka to take "necessary and appropriate action," the president’s office said, without disclosing details.

There was no immediate comment from the UN office in Colombo.

The United Nations has repeatedly called for investigations into alleged rights abuses and war crimes said to have been committed in the last weeks of fighting that culminated in May with the killing of the top rebel leadership.

Sri Lanka has resisted calls for any investigation, saying no civilians were harmed by government forces in its fight.

Sri Lanka insists it carried out a "humanitarian operation" to free Tamil civilians from rebel control.

However, the United Nations has reported that at least 7,000 civilians perished during the last four months of fighting, with many more wounded.

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