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Video proves Sri Lanka war crimes: UN expert

War crimes were committed by the military during the final days of conflict in Sri Lanka, a UN expert has said after reviewing footage showing unarmed men being shot dead from close range. Sutirtho Patranobis reports.

world Updated: May 30, 2011 17:29 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

War crimes were committed by the military during the final days of conflict in Sri Lanka, a UN expert has said after reviewing footage showing unarmed men being shot dead from close range.

Agency reports from Geneva quoted UN human rights expert, Christof Heyns, as saying that the shocking footage showed "definitive war crimes."

"What is reflected in the extended video are crimes of the highest order – definitive war crimes," Heyns was quoted by Associated Press as having said.

Heyns said he reviewed the footage showing the apparent execution of unarmed men and women with technical and forensic experts. "The overall conclusion reached by the experts is that the video is authentic and the events reflected in the video footage occurred as depicted,” he told UN Human Rights Council

The government has denied that it had either deliberately targetted civilians or that its troops had carried out extra-judicial killings. Official spokespersons have repeatedly questioned the authenticity of video footages that have surfaced since the end of war in May, 2009, allegedly showing unarmed men and women being shot dead.

Earlier, addressing the 17th session of the Council, UN Human Rights chief, N Pillai said she supported the UN panel's recommendation "to establish an international mechanism to monitor national investigations and undertake its own as necessary. It would be important for the Human Rights Council to reflect on the new information contained in this important report, in light of its previous consideration of Sri Lanka and efforts to combat impunity worldwide.”

But African and Islamic members of the 47-nation Human Rights Council moved to quell any attempt to reopen the debate on Sri Lanka's conduct at the end of the war.

"The international community must support national efforts to win the peace in Sri Lanka," said Pakistan's Ambassador Zamir Akram, speaking on behalf of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.

Akram, as quoted by AP, as saying that the report by the office of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was "primarily based on second-hand information that was never verified."

With inputs from Agencies