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Lanka Army Announces First Probe Into War Crimes

[PTI, Wednesday, 15 February 2012 15:01 No Comment]

Succumbing to international pressure to probe alleged war crimes, Sri Lankan Army for the first time said today that it will probe accusations that its troops killed civilians and prisoners in the last stage of the bloody war with the LTTE rebels in 2009.

A special panel to look at the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) has been appointed by the Army.

Army chief Jagath Jayasuriya appointed a court of inquiry to investigate the allegations of war-crimes against its soldiers in the final stages of its war with the LTTE.

The Army said the five-member Court of Inquiry is an initial fact-finding inquiry similar to a non-summary inquiry by a Magistrate.

The LLRC report released in November recommended that those responsible for alleged civilian killings must be probed.

The Army maintains that the war with the LTTE was conducted with zero civilian casualty policy and there was no deliberate civilian targeting during the final phase of the conflict.

"If there is a prima facie case disclosed against any person from the evidence led before the Court of Inquiry, a General Court Martial, is convened to try the alleged offenders", the Army said in a statement.

This is the first time the Army had agreed to probe war crime charges or investigate allegations of prisoner executions made in a British Channel 4 TV.

US and the West have pushed for a full investigation of alleged rights abuses on both sides during the civil war that ended in May 2009 with the defeat of Tamil Tigers.

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