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SL denies tampering with evidence

Sri Lanka did not tamper with evidence in a probe into the execution-style killing of 17 aid workers in the northeast, the Foreign Ministry said, citing an Australian pathologist.

world Updated: Aug 04, 2007 15:15 IST

Sri Lanka did not tamper with evidence in a probe into the execution-style killing of 17 aid workers in the northeast, the Foreign Ministry said, citing an Australian pathologist.

The Sri Lankan aid workers - employees of international group Action Against Hunger - were killed in August 2006 in Muttur, 230 kilometers northeast of the capital, Colombo, amid heavy fighting between government troops and separatist Tamil rebels.

The Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists raised "serious concerns" in June that a bullet may have been removed from evidence submitted by investigators to a Sri Lankan court.

The ICJ said Dr. Malcolm Dodd, an Australian pathologist who was present at a post-mortem last October, reported that eight bullets were recovered from seven bodies.

The legal group cited Dodd as saying one of the bullets was 5.56 caliber. The ICJ said 5.56 caliber bullets are commonly used in the M-16 rifles employed by Sri Lanka's army and navy.

But a Sri Lankan government analyst later concluded that all the bullets were 7.62 caliber.

"There is, therefore, evidence to indicate that the 5.56 caliber bullet was removed from the evidence submitted as exhibits ... And that another bullet of a different type was substituted," the ICJ said at the time, calling on Sri Lanka to launch a new investigation.

On Friday the Foreign Ministry issued a statement refuting the ICJ's allegation.