3RD LEAD (Adds ICC filing document)
Kohona could face court over Tamil Tiger deaths - Sydney paper
[TamilNet, Monday, 21 February 2011, 13:33 GMT]
"An Australian citizen and senior Sri Lankan diplomat has been accused of complicity in the murders of three surrendering Tamil Tigers in an application to the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands," Sydney Morning Herald said in its Monday edition, referring to Dr Palitha Kohona, who is currently attached to the United Nations Sri Lanka Mission in New York. "...two international Tamil organisations have made a series of war crimes allegations to the International Criminal Court involving Dr Kohona and his role in the negotiated surrender of three Tamil Tigers who are believed to have been killed," the paper said.
Dr. Palitha Kohona
"The man, Palitha Kohona, was the international face of the Sri Lankan government's war with separatist militants, the Tamil Tigers, and played an important role in the surrender of Tamil Tiger soldiers following their defeat in May 2009," the paper said.
"But reports of mass killings and the extrajudicial killing of surrendering Tigers have since surfaced. Dr Kohona and the Sri Lankan government strongly deny the claims, and so far the international community has been reluctant to investigate them," the paper added.
TamilNet has obtained the document filed with the ICC prosecutor. The public copy, spokesperson for the US-based activist group, Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), said, "does not include the detailed deposition given under oath by a senior Sri Lanka's Army Commander who is in hiding in the U.S." The omitted parts of the deposition include a statement which "authenticates the fact that command from higher officials were given to front line commanders to shoot dead surrendees," the spokesperson said. The deposition, however, is part of the original filing, the spokesperson added.
The request, filed by the Swiss Council of Eelam Tamils and the US group Tamils Against Genocide, alleges Dr Kohona had been involved in the trio's [Mahindran Balasingham, Seeveratnam Pulidevan and a man known only as Ramesh] surrender in the days before their death, the paper noted.
A spokeswoman for the Home Affairs Minister, Brendan O'Connor, would not comment on the case except to say: ''Australia is a party to the Rome Statute and, as such, supports action by the court to prosecute crimes falling within its jurisdiction," the paper further said.
Dr Kohona told the ABC yesterday the claims had no substance and were politically motivated, the paper noted.Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) contains an audio interview with the different parties involved in the case.