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Fonseka could be hanged: SL Defence Secy

world Updated: Jun 07, 2010 21:43 IST

PTI
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Sri Lankan government has threatened to execute the country's jailed former Army chief and war hero Sarath Fonseka if he continues to suggest that top officials may have ordered war crimes during the final hours of the bloody civil war.

The threat has been issued by the country's powerful Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who said Fonseka would be hanged if he deposes before any investigations into the alleged war crimes.

Fonseka, 59, who fell out with the President after the Tamil Tigers were crushed in May last year, bringing an end to an almost thirty year civil war on the island nation, is currently being tried by court martial on two separate charges of corruption in defence deals and politicking while in uniform.

Gotabhaya responded angrily to the prospect of Fonseka giving evidence, "He can't do that. He was the commander!." The Defence Secretary told BBC "That's a treason. We will hang him if he does that. I'm telling you!....How can he betray the country? He is a liar, liar, liar."

The Lankan Defence Secretary also ruled out the possibility of an independent third party investigations of alleged war crimes committed both by the country's army and the Tamil Tigers in the final phase of the war.

"We are an independent country, we have the ability to investigate all these things," The Guardian quoted Rajapaksa as saying in an interview to the BBC programme 'Hard Talk' to be broadcast later this week.

Guardian said, Fonseka had roused the fury of the Rajapaksa clan when he suggested there was eyewitness evidence of the Defence Secretary ordering army officers to shoot and kill surrendering Tamil Tiger leaders at the end of the war.

The British daily said the witness is said to be a Sri Lankan embedded journalist who is hiding overseas.

The paper also claimed that in an clandestine telephone interview, Fonseka had confirmed that he had heard this account and would be prepared to testify before an independent investigation of alleged abuses.

Guardian said Colombo insists that no civilians were killed by the army during their final assault on the Tigers in the final phase of the war, despite evidence from the UN and the international NGOs which points to thousands of civilian deaths.