Mylanthanai massacre accused make statements from dock
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 05 November 2002, 18:20 GMT]
All eighteen accused soldiers of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) Tuesday made statements from the dock in the Colombo High Court (HC) in the Mylanthanai massacre case denying their involvement in the crime. The case is being heard daly from 2nd October before a Sinhala speaking Jury at the request of the accused, who are also Sinhalese.
When the inquiry resumed Tuesday before the High Court Judge Mr.S.Sriskandarajah, the Judge asked the defence whether the accused wanted to give evidence from the witness box or to make statement from the dock. The Judge added that the accused would not be subjected to cross-examination if they preferred to make statement from the dock. If the accused desired to give evidence from the witness box then they are liable for cross examination, the Judge pointed out.
The defence counsel informed court that the accused preferred to make statements from the dock thus avoiding cross-examination by the prosecution and by the Attorney-at-Laws for the aggrieved parties.
In their statements, the accused denied that they were involved in the killing of civilians on the day of incidents. The accused said on the day of incident they heard sounds of gun fire from the direction of Mylanthanai. They said that superiors had warned them to be prepared to counter any attacks by the LTTE and that they never ventured outside the camp on the day of the incident. Denying all charges against them, the accused said they have been falsely implicated in the case.
The prosecution closed its case on Friday last week. The prosecution will start addressing the Jury Wednesday followed by the defense. The Jury is expected to give their verdict after the Judge addresses them, court sources said. The trial is expected to come to an end next week
Since the start of the trial all the accused who were earlier on bail were kept in remand on the orders of the High Court Judge.
The accused have been indicted by the Attorney General on eighty-nine counts including the murder of thirty-five Tamil civilians and causing injuries to twenty others at Mylanthanai a village in the Batticaloa district on August 9, 1992. This massacre took place following the killing of Major General Hector Hobbekaduwa and seven other senior high-ranking military officials in a landmine attack at Jaffna on August 9 the same year.
President Counsel Daya Perera is appearing for the accused. With the prosecution Attorney-at-Law K.S.Ratnavelu and S.Shanmugalingam are representing the relatives of those killed and the injured.