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Fonseka backtracks on LTTE remark

Sri Lanka's presidential candidate former General Sarath Fonseka today said the army never violated any international norm during the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, reports Sutirtho Patranobis.

world Updated: Dec 15, 2009 00:25 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Presidential candidate former General Sarath Fonseka on Monday said the Sri Lankan army (SLA) never violated any international norm during the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

In an interview to a weekly newspaper, Fonseka had said on Sunday that defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa had given orders to the army to execute LTTE leaders who wanted to surrender. Fonseka added in the interview to the Sunday Leader that, he even as the army chief at that time had no inkling of the order.

On Monday, he backtracked on the statement, claiming that his comments were misinterpreted by the newspaper. He clarified that it was only from another journalist embedded with the army that he had heard about the defence secretary’s alleged phone call and his instructions.

News agencies and websites reported on Monday that Fonseka said that as "far as he was aware, there were no one carrying white flags and attempting to surrender on the night of May 17. Soldiers never killed anyone attempting to surrender. If there are any accusations of Human Rights violations of other actions against them, he was responsible and would answer to those allegations."

The Ada Derana website quoted Fonseka as saying, "My order to the troops was to kill all terrorists. And they did that. Only the next day they were able to identify the bodies of terrorist leaders like Puleedevan, Nadesan among the bodies of those killed. There was no human rights violation or any illegal killings. If there are accusations, I am prepared to answer them in any court or tribunal on behalf of the troops."

Fonseka’s Sunday interview had attracted strong denial from government ministers who had threatened to take him to court. "Betrayal based on untruth," was how one minister described it.