Opposition says Sri Lanka lied to UN over heavy weapons

January 15, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s opposition Friday accused the government of misleading the UN over the use of heavy weapons during the final stages of fighting against Tamil rebels last year. Sri Lanka’s Tamil community, numbering 12.5 percent of the population, has close cultural and religious links with India’s Tamil Nadu state, which was once the staging post for Sri Lankan Tamil separatists. Sri Lanka is under pressure from the United Nations and Western nations to submit to a war crimes investigation after a host of allegations about the killing of prisoners and the use of weapons.

A top aide to President Mahinda Rajapakse disclosed on Thursday that Colombo ordered a halt to the use of heavy weapons only in April, two months after a UN envoy was promised that such armaments would not be used.

Former foreign minister and key opposition leader Mangala Samaraweera seized on the disclosure by the aide, Lalith Weeratunga, who said the use of heavy weapons was eventually stopped as part of a political deal with the Indian government.

The statement “indicates that despite claims to the contrary, both to the public of this country and to (the) UN… in February 2009, in fact the gov