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Sri Lanka slams ‘fictional’ UN war crimes report

[AFP, Thursday, 28 April 2011 19:35 No Comment]

Sri Lanka’s foreign minister on Thursday denounced a UN-commissioned report on war crimes allegations as biased, malicious and tending towards sensationalist "fiction".

The report released Monday had highlighted "credible allegations" that both the Sri Lankan army and Tamil Tiger rebels had been involved in violations that could amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity.

The allegations referred to the final months of the government’s ultimately successful 2009 offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in which tens of thousands of civilians are estimated to have died.

"The report is legally, morally and substantively flawed," Foreign Minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris told a gathering of foreign diplomats in Colombo.

A press release from his ministry cited Peiris accusing the United Nations of "feeding into the political agendas" of people trying to "destabilise" Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka has repeatedly denied any rights violations and refused to allow the three-member panel of experts who wrote the report access to the country.

Peiris was particularly critical of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay who, following the report’s release, had stressed the need for a full-fledged international inquiry.

Calling Pillay’s comments "most regrettable," Peiris said the report had been written in "true horror story" style, in an attempt to provoke a strong reaction.

"This begs the question as to whether the account is fact or fiction," he said, adding that the document contained "fundamental deficiencies, inherent prejudices and malicious intentions."

The UN panel said the Sri Lankan military killed most of the tens of thousands of civilian victims of the offensive when it shelled Tamil territory between January and May of 2009.

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