Sri Lankan judge says war crime allegations are 'credible'

Sri Lankan judge backs allegations that country’s army committed war crimes

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Members of Sri Lanka's Dead and Missing Person's Parents organisation hold photographs as they take part in a protest in Jaffna, northern Sri Lanka, in 2013.

A government-appointed Sri Lankan judge said war crime claims against the army are “credible,” in a report which he presented to parliament on Tuesday.

The Maxell Paranagama commission was appointed by former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse in 2013 to investigate war crimes which may have been committed during the long conflict with Tamil Tiger rebels.

The former president has always denied his army committed war crimes, and rejected international inquiries.

International media outlets and intergovernmental organisations are also closely interested in the case.

The United Nations released a report in 2011, blaming both sides for the numerous atrocities which were committed during the war.

The report indicates that 40,000 people may have been killed in the final five months of the conflict.

The UK's Channel 4 also released video evidence of war crimes and extra-judicial killings in the civil war.   

Retired judge Maxwell Paranagama said in parliament on Tuesday that there were "credible allegations which...may show that some members of the armed forces committed acts during the final phase of the war that amounted to war crimes giving rise to individual criminal responsibility."

Mr. Paranagama pointed to the Channel 4 documentary "No Fire Zone" which shows the bodies  of dead prisoners naked, blindfolded, with their arms tied.

Sri Lanka's military at the time rejected the documentary, describing it as a "fabrication."

The Paranagama commission also said the "White Flag" case regarding the killing of top Tamil political leaders and their family members in May 2009 should be included in the investigation.

Sri Lankan troops were accused of indiscriminate shelling leading to massive casualties while Tamil Tiger rebels were accused of using civilians as human shields and shooting people trying to escape during the 26-year civil war.

TRTWorld and agencies