Lankan military briefs international panel on domestic war crimes probe
Sri Lanka's top security forces commanders have reportedly briefed the chairman of the International Advisory Panel (IAP) appointed to advise a presidential commission inquiring into alleged atrocities committed during the 25 year-long civil war between government troops and the LTTE.
According to the Island newspaper, Sir Desmond de Silva was briefed on operations conducted during the Eeelam war IV, with the focus being on the last phase i.e. January to May, 2009.
The briefing took place soon after President Mahinda Rajapaksa named Sir Desmond, a British national of Sri Lankan origin as well as Sir Geoffrey Nice (UK) and Prof. David Crane (US) to the advisory panel in the middle of last month.
Subsequently, President Rajapaksa named two more panelists- an Indian Avdhash Kaushal, a human rights activist chairing the Dehradun-based NGO Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra, and Pakistani legal expert Ahmer B. Soofi.
Responding to a query, sources said that except for one or two senior officers, who had commanded ground troops during the final phase, almost all others appeared before the IAP chief.
The army launched the Northern offensive in early March 2007 on the Vanni Central front, while troops were still battling strong LTTE units in the Eastern Province. The government brought the province under its control in July 2007.
The army deployed five divisions, namely 57 (Central front), Task Force I/58 (Mannar front), 59 (Weli Oya front) and 53 and 55 (Jaffna front) in addition to several Task Forces to annihilate LTTE fighting units in the Northern region. The Task Force I/58 Division and 59 Division commenced operations in September 2007 and January 2008, respectively.
The army brought the war to a successful conclusion on May 19, 2009 with the killing of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.
The navy explained its efforts, particularly during the last few months meant to rescue civilians fleeing the war zone in boats. The navy also facilitated the transfer of wounded from the war zone in ships chartered by the ICRC to Pulmoddai, where an Indian medical team was in charge of medical relief operations.
Sources said that the IAP had also received a second briefing.
Retired High Court judge Maxwell Paranagama heads the three-member commission.
(Posted on 24-08-2014)