Sri Lanka offers to probe ‘specific’ war crime claims

June 2, 2011 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s top military commander offered on Thursday to probe “specific allegations” of war crimes during the country’s fight against Tamil Tiger separatists that ended two years ago. Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya said no civilians were killed by his forces, but he was open to investigating alleged rights abuses in the final stages of fighting.

“I am prepared to investigate allegations, specific allegations,” Jayasuriya told reporters after a three-day seminar entitled: “Defeating Terrorism, Sri Lankan Experience.”

“I don’t want to sweep anything under the rug,” he said referring to Australian counter-terrorism expert David Kilcullen’s call Tuesday for Sri Lanka’s generals to address international concerns about war crimes.

His remarks appeared to be a softening of the hard-line position of Sri Lanka which had insisted that no civilians were killed by its troops and there was no need for an investigation.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has, however, appointed a panel to probe why a 2002 truce between the government and the rebels broke down and asked it to recommend measures to prevent the island slipping back into bloodshed.

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