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Sri Lankan govt to examine war crimes documentary

world Updated: Jun 17, 2011 21:21 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

A government commission examining the last years of the Sri Lankan civil war will look into the Channel 4 documentary that shows footage of alleged war crimes including military personnel executing unarmed men and women and dumping bodies in trucks.

The LLRC’s decision to look into the disturbing documentary came as China on Friday reiterated its support to the Lanka government on not allowing any external probe into allegations of war crimes. “Chinese President Hu Jintao told President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Petersburg that China opposes external forces trying to interfere in the affairs of Sri Lanka,” Bandula Jayasekara, chief of Rajapaksa’s media cell, said via a cell phone message from Russia.

Reports on Friday said the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) appointed last year by President Mahinda Rajapaksa will get the documentary, Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, examined by experts.

“We will review the film and subject it to our examining. We have been similarly examining documentary evidence such as photographs as part of our routine procedure from time to time including the Channel 4’s previous video,” Lakshman Wickramasinghe, LLRC spokesperson, told PTI in Colombo.

The government’s response to the documentary, which was also shown to diplomats at the UN Human Rights Council before being aired on the channel, has been guarded.

“If the allegations levelled by Channel 4 or any other party are found to be genuine, the LLRC will take due note of all such cases and remedial measures will be taken by way of legal sanctions,” a government statement said.

But the government also put a huge question mark on the authenticity of the footage shown in the documentary. Defence secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, even said pro-LTTE elements used the news channel after giving money to them to tarnish the reputation of the government and the army.

Critics of the government have said the LLRC does not fulfill the accepted parameters of an independent probe into the last seven years of war which claimed thousands of lives.The documentary came in the backdrop of April’s release of a report by UN Secretary General’s experts’ panel which accused both the Sri Lanka government and the LTTE of human rights violations.