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Tamil group files lawsuit against Rajapaksa in US

Last updated: 29 January, 2011
Washington, Jan 29 (PTI) 8:38 IST

A US-based Tamil advocacy group has filed a lawsuit against Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa seeking USD 30 million in damages for the alleged extra-judicial killings in the decades-old civil war.

The lawsuit was filed by Bruce Fein, a Washington-based attorney, on behalf of Tamils Against Genocide (TAG) in a district court in District of Columbia.

"Rajapaksa will not escape the long arm of justice secured by the Torture Victims Protection Act by hiding in Sri Lanka. Extra-judicial killings under colour of law are universal torts. If President Rajapaksa refuses to defend against the complaint, a default judgment will be sought," Fein said in a statement.

Rajapaksa was recently on a private visit to the US. The lawsuit has been filed against Rajapaksa for damages under the Alien Tort Claims Act and Torture Victims Protection Act (ATCA/TVPA) on behalf of three plaintiffs for the alleged killings of 40,000 Tamil civilians in Mullaiththeevu in 2009, five Trincomalee students in January 2006, and 17 Action Contre La Faim (ACF) workers in August 2006.

The suit seeks damages of USD 30 million. "TAG and the Tamil community around the world were alarmed and disappointed that the US would allow a known war criminal such as Mahinda Rajapaksa to come to the US for medical treatment, and leave without answering a single question regarding the genocide he perpetrated against the Tamil community," a TAG spokesman said in a statement.

The United States had a precious opportunity here to stand up for human rights, and squandered it by allowing Rajapaksa to come and leave freely, TAG alleged. "The Tamil community in Sri Lanka is still suffering as second-class citizens, even as they mourn the loss of their loved ones and know they will find no justice in Sri Lanka as Rajapaksa's authoritarian regime consolidates power at the expense of basic human rights," the spokesperson said.

The decades-old civil war in Sri Lanka ended in 2009 with the defeat of the LTTE, which was fighting for a separate statehood for the Tamil community there.

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