UN launches Sri Lanka war crimes probe
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Tuesday set up a panel to investigate alleged war crimes during the civil war in Sri Lanka. The panel will be chaired by Mazuki Darusman, the UN’s special envoy to North Korea.
Human rights groups have accused the Sri Lankan authorities of committing war crimes during a campaign against Tamil rebels in the north east of the country.
They have presented videos and satellite images, but government says they are forgeries. The military has also been accused of executing rebels who had surrendered.
Last week Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse said his troops had never fired at a single civilian.
“Our troops carried a gun in one hand and a copy of the human rights’ charter in the other,” he said.
The three-man panel also includes Yasmin Sooka from South Africa and Steven Ratner from the United States. They hope to co-operate with Sri Lankan authorities, they said in a statement.
“The secretary-general remains convinced that accountability is an essential foundation for durable peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka,” it added.
The government declared victory over the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in May 2009, ending a 37-year civil war.
UN figures say up to 100,000 people were killed in the conflict.
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