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* Sri Lanka ex-Army Commander strongly rejects war crimes claims
Thu, May 20, 2010, 07:37 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

May 20, Colombo: Sri Lanka's former Army Commander retired General Sarath Fonseka today strongly rejected the recent claims by the British newscaster Channel 4 and the International Crisis Group that the military committed war crimes during the last stages of the war against Tamil Tigers last year.

Addressing media briefing today after the parliamentary session, the former Army commander, and the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) parliamentarian said he can assure that there were no war crimes.

He said he personally planned, supervised, and conducted the ground operations of the prolonged battle.

"To my knowledge, depending on what I know, and what happened on the ground there were no war crimes. I can give you that assurance," he told the foreign journalists.

Responding to the fresh allegations made in the recent ICG report, General Fonseka said those same allegations came up during the war and investigations found that most allegations were baseless.

"If somebody says intentional killings of civilians I will deny that," the former military chief stressed.

He said the security forces went out of the way to save civilians and suffered heavy casualties.

"We saved 300,000 civilians, arrested 10,000 terrorists. We had to take lot of casualties because we were going out of the way to save civilians," he pointed out.

General Fonseka said the Sri Lankan Army and the government never had the habit of covering up any incidents even in the past.

If any specific incidents are highlighted, I am always ready to go into details, he said. "If I know, if I found anything I will not hush it up," he added.

However, if there are any specific incidents General Fonseka said the government has an obligation to conduct inquiries on them.

Britain's Channel 4 TV on Tuesday said a senior Sri Lankan army commander has confirmed that orders to execute Tamils in the last phase of the war came from the top ranks of the Sri Lankan government.

Channel 4's report came in the wake of a report released by the International Crisis Group (ICG) Monday accusing the Sri Lankan government of intentionally killing thousands of Tamils during the last stages of war.

The Sri Lankan government has vehemently rejected the allegations of intentional killing of Tamil civilians and committing war crimes.



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