Lanka denies report on war crimes

Govt rejects accuracy of video showing execution of Tamils


The footage, shown on British and Indian television, showed a man in a distinctive army outfit shooting the men, who appear naked, bound and blindfolded, in the back of the head. Later, the camera pans to show a muddy field littered with the bodies of half a dozen men in pools of their own blood.

The Guardian could not verify the contents of the video which had been obtained by a group called the Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka, believed to be made up of Sinhalese and Tamil reporters, some of whom fled the island after the Sri Lankan army crushed the rebel Tamil Tigers. The group claimed the video footage was taken in January by a soldier using a mobile phone.

Human rights groups said there was no way to confirm the video’s veracity — especially as in the last stages of the war earlier this year, both independent journalists and non-governmental agencies were not allowed access to the war zone or areas bordering it. The events have been described as a “war without witnesses”. A spokesman for the Sri Lankan high commission in New Delhi said his government “categorically denied” the report of atrocities.

“We have seen many cases where unverified video and photographers have been used to undermine Sri Lanka. This appears another example,” he said.  According to the UN, up to 100,000 people were killed in the three decades of Sri Lanka’s civil war that ended ended in May. The conflict finished only after the army overran rebel positions and killed the Tamil Tigers’ leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, who had fought for a separate state carved out of Sri Lanka.

More than 280,000 civilians are now living in the state-run camps. Sri Lanka says they cannot return home until mine clearing has been finished and said it is deploying more troops to “clean up” former conflict zones in the north of the island.

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