The murder of five young Tamil students and the execution of 17 aid workers feature prominently in a petition filed against President Mahinda Rajapaksa in an US court.
In January, three Sri Lankan Tamils filed the case in a Washington court alleging Rajapaksa, as the supreme commander of the forces, was responsible for these and other cases of torture and extrajudicial killings. They have demanded $30 million in damages from him.
The petition, an emailed copy of which is with HT, gives examples of unresolved killings including murder of Tamil lawmakers. Among the petitioners, affiliated to Tamils Against Genocide (TAG), is the father of a 20-year-old student who, along with four friends, was allegedly murdered by the Special Task Force in January 2006 in Trincomalee. The subsequent investigation ended without resolving the infamous case.
The cold-blooded execution of 17 local aid workers from Paris-based Action Against Hunger in Muttur in eastern Sri Lanka the same year grabbed world headlines. The government blamed the LTTE but under international pressure constituted a futile investigation. The petitioner, wife of a deceased, claims the government troops murdered the workers.
The last petitioner claimed four family members were killed in shelling by the Lankan navy in Mullaitivu in May, 2009 days before the civil war ended.
The government has maintained it did not target civilians. But rights groups have called for international investigation amid claims that there were thousands of casualties.
Officials dismissed the lawsuit as an effort of surviving Tamil Tiger front groups to tarnish the country’s image.
“What we are seeing now is that the same individuals or relatives of these individuals were part of these proscribed LTTE front organisations have started new groups. They continue to spread propaganda against the Government and carry out publicity stunts like this baseless law suit,’’ Lanka’s US ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya said in a statement.