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'No international probe will be allowed'

world Updated: May 28, 2010 21:25 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times
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Sri Lanka will not allow outsiders to hold an enquiry into allegations of war crime during the final stages of the battle between government troops and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said.

"I don’t want my internal matters to be inquired by any other country or any other NGOs. We will look after that," Rajapaksa told in an interview to Al-Jazeera television channel.

When asked if any civilians were killed during the final phase of the war, Rajapaksa said no non-combatant was killed, adding the civilians trusted the Sri Lankan Army and came to the government controlled areas.

"It's a war, you're right. By the way the people came to this side, to the government-controlled areas, you can see. If Sri Lankan army acted in a different way, against the civilians, they would never have trusted us. They wouldn't have walked into our camps. 300000 people. So that shows our army, they trusted our army," he said.

When questioned by the journalist if he would take action against those who have committed war crimes even if they connected to him the President said: "If it is a crime, whether it is my relation, or my army commander or anybody. It is immaterial. It's a crime, crime is a crime, so we have to punish them."

But he added: "we can't punish a person for defeating terrorism. So if the international community wants to punish Sri Lanka for defeating terrorism, I'm not for that."

"Be fair with us ... be fair with us ... don’t treat Sri Lanka like this because we defeated terrorism," Rajapakse said.

Last week, Rajapaksa appointed an eight-member “reconciliation commission” to study the last stages of the war and to recommend ways to avoid a return to ethnic conflict, but it had no mandate to probe war crimes.