Former Sri Lanka rebel leader condemned as ‘barbaric’

Sri Lankan foreign minister, Dinesh Gunawardena said that Amman’s confession “paved the way for countries pointing the finger at Sri Lanka to gain a clear understanding of the extent of the brutality of the LTTE.” (AFP)
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Updated 25 June 2020

Former Sri Lanka rebel leader condemned as ‘barbaric’

  • Sri Lankan police ordered an immediate investigation into Amman’s comments

COLOMBO: A claim by a former Tamil Tigers commander that he had killed as many as 3,000 Sri Lankan troops during the country’s bloody civil war showed the rebel group’s “brutality and barbarism,” Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said on Wednesday.

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) deputy Karuna Amman, also known as Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, told a political rally on Friday that he had murdered thousands of troops during the civil war, which began in 1991 and lasted more than three decades.

Sri Lankan police ordered an immediate investigation into Amman’s comments.

The foreign minister said that Amman’s confession “paved the way for countries pointing the finger at Sri Lanka to gain a clear understanding of the extent of the brutality of the LTTE.”

He added: “Certain Western countries keep silent on atrocities committed by LTTE terrorists.”

Speaking at a political rally for the twice-delayed parliamentary polls on Aug. 5, Amman said: “When I was a member of the LTTE, I killed 2,000 to 3,000 Sri Lankan army personnel in one night at Elephant Pass. I have killed more in Kilinochchi. That is certainly higher than the number of lives the coronavirus has claimed in Sri Lanka.”

The former rebel leader was responding to a comment by a local government chairman that Amman was “more dangerous than the coronavirus.”

On Tuesday, Amman was ordered to make a statement to criminal investigators, but failed to appear, citing ill health.

Former Western Province Gov. Azath Salley said that Amman’s comments were “serious” and constituted a “warrantless offense.”

“Assassination of 2,000-3,000 army troops is a warrantless offense. According to the criminal code, a warrantless offense allows a peacekeeper to arrest a person without a warrant,” Salley told Arab News on Wednesday, adding that there was “no need for a formal inquiry” into the case.

Meanwhile, human rights activist Shreen Saroor said that Amman’s claims were part of a populist strategy to provoke people against the Tamil separatists and gain more Sinhalese Buddhist votes in the east. 

Amman “seems to believe that playing into Buddhist extremism and military heroism can bring victory,” she said.

Former parliamentarian Mujibur Rahman agreed, saying that Amman had formed an alliance with the ruling Sri Lanka’s People’s Front (SLPP), led by Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa, and was contesting the poll in a Tamil-majority area.

“The statement has a two pronged-purpose. One is to gain Tamil preferential votes from the Tamil-dominated areas in the north and eastern parts of the country, and the other is for Rajapaksa to gain Sinhalese Buddhist votes in other parts of the island — a win-win situation for Amman and Rajapaksa,” Rahman said.

In 2004, Amman abandoned the LTTE to form his own political party, the Tamil People’s Front for Liberation Tigers (TPFLT), leaving the LTTE weakened and resulting in the group’s demise at the hands of government troops in 2009.

A year later, Amman was elected to parliament and became a deputy minister in the-then Rajapaksa government.

He is currently representing the TPFLT at the Aug. 5 polls.


Law to protect soldiers would be ‘dangerous’ to UK forces’ reputation, PM warned

Updated 11 min 22 sec ago

Law to protect soldiers would be ‘dangerous’ to UK forces’ reputation, PM warned

  • “This bill would be a stain on the country’s reputation,” military and political figures said
  • “To create de facto impunity for such crimes would be a damaging signal for Britain to send to the world,” the letter added

LONDON: A bill that aims to repress claims against British troops was “dangerous and harmful” to the reputation of the UK’s armed forces and the safety of its personnel, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been warned.
Military and political figures have encouraged the British premier to reconsider the “ill-conceived” legislation, which will return to the House of Commons next week, The Times reported.
Former head of the armed forces , Field Marshal Charles Guthrie, ex-defense secretary, Malcolm Rifkind, and former attorney-general, Dominic Grieve, sent a letter to Johnson on Thursday sharing their concerns about the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill, the British newspaper said.
The draft law seeks to limit false and old allegations against personnel through measures including a statutory presumption against criminal prosecution five years after an alleged crime.
Compelling new evidence must be presented, and the attorney-general’s consent secured in order for the presumption to be overruled. The bill is only applicable to overseas operations.
In the letter, Guthrie and other signatories said: “We find it disturbing that the government’s approach … creates a presumption against prosecution of torture and other grave crimes (with only rape and sexual violence excepted) after five years.
“We believe that the effective application of existing protocols removes the risk of vexatious prosecution. To create de facto impunity for such crimes would be a damaging signal for Britain to send to the world.
“This bill would be a stain on the country’s reputation. It would increase the danger to British soldiers if Britain is perceived as reluctant to act in accordance with long-established international law,” they added.
Britain’s most senior military judge had warned defense secretary, Ben Wallace, that the legislation could leave British troops more likely to face prosecution for war crimes at the International Criminal Court at The Hague, The Times revealed in June.
As the legislation sets out protections relating only to domestic crimes, it could encourage police and prosecutors to focus on pursuing war-crime charges, Judge Jeffrey Blackett said.
The Ministry of Defense has said that the legislation “strikes the right balance” between the rights of victims and “fairness to those who defend this country.”