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War crimes tape authentic: United Nations

The mobile phone video allegedly showing Sri Lankan army (SLA) soldiers executing suspected cadres of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is authentic despite some inconsistencies, the United Nations (UN) has said.

world Updated: Jan 08, 2010 21:25 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

The mobile phone video allegedly showing Sri Lankan army (SLA) soldiers executing suspected cadres of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is authentic despite some inconsistencies, the United Nations (UN) has said.

The video showed armed men, shooting in cold blood and from a close range naked and blind-folded prisoners.

Three UN-commissioned experts conducted forensic tests on the videotape which was first aired in Britain in August.

“The conclusion clearly is that the video is authentic,” Philip Alston, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, said in New York. “I have therefore called on the Government of Sri Lanka to respond to these allegations,’’ he added.

Alston, however, added that the experts were unable to explain a small number of characteristics of the video including the movement of certain victims in the video, 17 frames at the end of the video, and the date of July 17 2009 encoded in the video. The ethnic war was officially declared over in May 2009.

The response from the Lankan government was angry and immediate.

``We reject these allegations," foreign minister Rohitha Bogollagama said Friday afternoon. ``In light of those continued contradictory findings, we can't accept it.’’

Bogollagama added a panel of six experts appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa was still probing the video and other war crimes allegations. "We are not instantly dismissing anything. That cannot be done by a government," he said.

The UN said the Lankan government had also commissioned four separate investigations which concluded that the video was a fake. ``However, Alston had pointed out that two of the Government’s experts looking into the matter were members of the Sri Lankan Army, the body whose actions have been called into question,’’ the UN added.

The three UN-commissioned experts conducted forensic pathology tests, forensic video analysis, and firearms-related evidence in the video.

“In sum, while there are some unexplained elements in the video, there are strong indications of its authenticity. In addition, most of the arguments relied upon by the Government of Sri Lanka to impugn the video have been shown to be flawed,’’ Alston said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is considering setting up an expert panel to advise him on the matter and help the Sri Lankan government to address possible violations by both sides during the government.