Sri Lanka rejects war crimes video, UN calls for probe (Second Lead)

Friday, December 3, 2010

LONDON/NEW DELHI - Sri Lanka has described as “fake” a new video released by Britain’s Channel 4 News that allegedly featured its troops executing naked men and women, as the UN rapporteur sought a fresh probe.

The video, which was telecast Tuesday, shows Sri Lankan government troops executing civilians in the last few weeks of the 26-year war, which ended in May last year when the government declared victory over the Tamil rebel group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

“It’s an expanded version of the video that was released by the LTTE last year. We have investigated that video and found it to be fake, an official of the Sri Lankan high commission in New Delhi told IANS.

“There are many discrepancies in the video. It’s a handiwork of the propaganda machinery of the LTTE, said the official.

In the video, a Sri Lankan soldier is seen shooting one of the blindfolded prisoners in the leg as he lies among the bodies of other Tamil prisoners on the ground. The soldier is then seen walking away and turning to the camera.

His image is briefly out of camera shot behind another soldier before he appears again close to camera - his face and moustache clearly visible.

The video then shows what appears to be a Sri Lankan soldier dressed in camouflage shooting another prisoner directly in the head. This would appear to be an execution.

The video is a longer version of one which already sparked a UN investigation 16 months ago when it first came to light. Channel 4 News has sent the new video to the UN panel investigating allegations of war crimes in Sri Lanka.

The UN Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions has called for a fresh probe into the video.

“It is shocking indeed, and clearly deserves more investigation,” Christof Heyns, the UN special rapporteur, was quoted as saying by Channel 4 News.

The Sri Lanka high commission in Britain, too, denied that the videos broadcast by Channel 4 News were authentic.

In a statement, it told Channel 4 News: “The high commission of Sri Lanka categorically denies that the Channel 4 News TV video is authentic.”

“Last year when Channel 4 News telecast a similar video, the government of Sri Lanka clearly established, by reference to technical considerations, that it was not genuine but fake. The present video is nothing more than an elongated version of the same video.”

The statement added: “It is observed that there is a common pattern in these sinister moves. Some sections were replete with photographs of alleged war crimes when Sri Lanka’s application for the extension of GSP+ facility was being considered by the European Commission.”

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