May 29, Colombo: The skeletal remains of persons uncovered in a mass grave in Matale in Sri Lanka's Central Province bore signs of torture, an attorney representing the families of the missing persons said.
Attorney-at-Law Sunil Watagala has said that according to the Kurunegala Judicial Medical Officer Ajith Jayasena, who examined the skeletal remains, those to whom the skeletal remains belong had been subjected to severe torture.
Speaking to Ceylon Today, Watagala has said that preliminary investigations detected iron nails on the skulls of majority of the remains, and the tips of fingers had been pierced with sharp instruments.
The government has sent the samples of the skeletal remains to Beta Analytic in Miami, Florida for radiocarbon dating to determine the time period of the remains.
The Matale Magistrate has said that she would explore the possibility of initiating a murder trial as soon as she gets the report on radiocarbon dating from the American company.
The mass grave was uncovered in November 2012 during excavation for construction at the Matale Hospital premises. Skeletal remains of 154 people were found during excavations carried out from the 26th November 2012 until the 12th March 2013.
It is believed that the skeletal remains unearthed from the Matale mass grave were of insurgents from the Marxist party Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) killed during the 1988-89 violence.
The excavations were carried on an order by Matale Magistrate Chathurika de Silva under the supervision of Consultant Judicial Medical Officer Dr. Ajith Jayasena.
The Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) confirming Watagala's allegations that victims were tortured said he has submitted his report to the Presidential Commission that was appointed to the probe the Matale mass graves.
"The statements we made before the Commission are by now public. We stated that those were not natural deaths, but deaths caused by pressures exerted by some person or persons," the JMO was quoted as saying.
According to a Commission member, the Commission has already recorded statements from witnesses and family members who believe the skeletal remains belong to their loved ones.