Leaked UN report urges Sri Lanka war crimes probe

April 16, 2011 (AFP) – A UN panel has called for an independent inquiry into “credible” allegations that Sri Lanka committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in its final 2009 offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels.

The panel of experts, appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, submitted its report last week, and leaked excerpts were published Saturday in Sri Lanka’s pro-government Island newspaper.

The leaked report detailed “credible allegations” which, if proven, indicate a wide range of violations by both the government and the rebels, “some of which would amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity”.

Specifically, it cited charges of government shelling that knowingly targeted civilians, hospitals and humanitarian targets in “no-fire zones”, as well as the denial of humanitarian assistance to victims of the fighting.

It said that “tens of thousands” of people died between January and May 2009 in the final government offensive that resulted in the defeat of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), ending a brutal, decades-old ethnic conflict.

“Most of the civilian casualties in the final phases of the war were caused by government shelling,” the leaked document s