Lawyers in Mannaar seek external assistance on mass grave investigations

[TamilNet, Saturday, 08 August 2015, 23:39 GMT]
Colombo-based Sri Lankan Criminal Investigation Department officer H. Ranasinghe was confronted last Wednesday by leading lawyers from Mannaar, when the case on continued exhumation of the alleged killing fields of Mannaar was taken at Mannaar Magistrate Court. Colombo's CID officers were trying to annul further investigations by sabotaging DNA based forensic investigations to judge the exact time when the victims were slain and by projecting a false claim that the skeletons belonged to a graveyard. However, Judge Aseervatham Gracian Alex Raja, after hearing the arguments from both the Colombo's Police and the lawyers representing the missing persons in Mannaar and the lawyers association in Mannaar, ordered for further excavation of another site, which is believed to be a well, where the SL military is believed to have dumped slain Tamils, 14 years ago.

Colombo's police department, which wanted to send the skeletons to China in 2013, now said it preferred such forensic assistance conducted at a university in the USA.

But, citing high expense, the CID officers told the Court that they urged higher authorities with the Sri Lankan Justice system in Colombo to recommend further action.

A prominent lawyer from Mannaar, M. Saboordeen, representing the association of lawyers in Mannaar and V.S. Ranjan who was representing the missing persons, argued that the Court should allow for further excavations of the alleged mass grave site.

The lawyers from Mannaar told reporters that international experts should be present when the exhumation takes place on 19 August 2015.

“We have no trust in Colombo's police system. They could even manipulate the evidence material before dispatching these to foreign countries for forensic investigations. There should be international monitoring of the exhumed skeletons to prevent such manipulations,” a leading lawyer in Mannaar told TamilNet on condition of anonymity on Saturday.

As soon as the discovery of the mass graves, Rt. Rev. Dr. Rayappu Joseph, the catholic bishop of Mannaar, had called for international investigations to be conducted on the mass grave located in Thirukkeatheesvaram as Sri Lanka has systematically failed to carry out any investigations on similar findings in the past.

In 2001, a number of civilians from Paappaa-moaddai were been reported missing when SL military deployed in Rana Gosha military operation advanced into Mannaar. At least 40 people from Paappaa-moaddai were reported missing in May-June 2001.

The mass grave site, situated near Maanthai junction, has been under the control of the occupying Sri Lankan military and was also used as a rear site of the SL military that uprooted the Tamil people from the area.


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