Chemmani exhumations next week - AG

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 01 September 1999, 20:01 GMT]
Sri Lanka's Attorney General's Department said in a news release issued Tuesday night that the exhumations of alleged graves in Chemmani, Jaffna of civilians murdered by Sri Lanka Army troops would recommence on September 6.

The text of the Attorney General's press release follows:

"Field investigations into the alleged surreptitious and illegal burial of persons in Chemmani recommenced on Monday in Jaffna.

"Prior to the commencement of field investigations, the connected case was taken up in the Jaffna Magistrates Court before the Additional Magistrate Mr. M.Illancheliyan.

"At the outset of the case, State Counsel Yasantha Kodagoda, informed court that the Criminal Investigations Department and the Forensic scientists had made all arrangements with the assistance of the Jaffna Police and the security forces of the Jaffna peninsula, to conduct excavation of all graves alleged to be in Chemmani and that for the purpose of identifying the locations of all the graves, the co-operation of the convicts of the Krishanthy Kumaraswamy rape and murder case have to be obtained.

"For that purpose, all 5 prisoners had been brought to Jaffna. On that occasion, the 5 prisoners were arraigned in court, and the court subsequently informed the prisoners the purpose for which they were brought to Jaffna.

"Later, court adjourned and reconvened in Chemmani. Initially prisoner Somaratne Rajapakse was asked to point out the locations of all the graves he knew of. Accordingly, he pointed out the alleged locations of 7 graves.

"At each location, the prisoner was questioned at length by the magistrate, the state counsel and Chief Forensic Pathologist Prof. Nirielige Chandrasiri.

"(Tuesday) morning the remaining prisoners D.M.Jayasinghe, G.Pradeep Priyadarshana, A.S.Priyashantha Perera and D.M.Jayatilake were asked to point out the locations of the remaining graves.

"The prisoners pointed out a total of 19 locations and some of the locations overlapped. In the circumstances, the total number of graves may be around 14.

"The process of identifying two more graves is due to recommence on the 1st September, after the army engineers clear certain areas of Chemmani of mines that may have been laid both before and after the liberation of Jaffna.

"Forensic investigators have indicated that they do not wish to predict at this stage of the investigation regarding the total number of bodies that may be recovered from the grave sites, due to the uncertainty of the information received in that regard. Whilst one of the graves is alleged to contain a single body, the others are alleged to contain more than one body.

"Based on information provided by the prisoners, excavation work with the objective of exhuming human remains will commence on the 6th of September.

"The field investigations are being observed by a group of internationally recognised forensic scientists, including Forensic Archaeologist Melissa Coroner, Forensic Criminal Investigator Bob Stier and Forensic Anthropologist Dr.William D.Haguland.

"The foreign expert observers whose presence in Sri Lanka have been facilitated by the Asia Foundation, have so far responded positively with regards the manner in which the investigation is being handled. Several lawyers from Jaffna who represent the victims also observed the field investigations.

"Forensic Pathologists Prof. Niriellege Chandrasiri, Dr.R.Ruwanpura, Dr.U.C.P.Perera, Dr.H.T.K.Wijeyaweera, Soil Scientist Dr.K.A.Nandasena, Archaeologists Nimal Perera and Alfred de Mel are presently taking part in the field investigations. SP Nandana Munasinghe and IP Linton Ratnayake are heading the team of Criminal Investigators from the CID.

"Col. Janaka Walgama was present in court to represent the Security Forces Commander of Jaffna Major General Lohan Gunawardena, ASP H.Pindiya represented the SSP, Jaffna Nimal Mediwaka"


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