Sri Lanka FM disowns “terrorist” accusation against UN official

August 16, 2007 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s foreign minister, Rohitha Bogollagama, Thursday disowned a Cabinet colleague’s accusation that a UN official who visited the island recently was a terrorist. He said he was œ¦simply referring factually to the terrible incidents that had taken place and the need to step up even further all our efforts to prevent such things in future.”

Bogollagama tried to downplay the accusation, saying it appeared to be the personal view of his colleague, highways minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, and should not be taken out of context.

Asked at a news conference whether he agreed with Fernandopulle’s remark that John Holmes, the UN undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs, who ended a four-day tour of Sri Lanka last week, was a terrorist, Bogollagama said:

“If he (Fernandopulle) did say he is a terrorist, I don’t agree. I say that it is not the government’s position. The minister (Fernandopulle) said it was his position.”

The furore was over Fernandopulle’s description of Holmes as a “terrorist” after accusing him of supporting the country’s separatist Tamil Tigers.

Fernandopulle was objecting to remarks by Holmes that Sri Lanka was one of