Sri Lankan court bails war-zone doctors

August 24, 2009 (AFP) – A Sri Lankan magistrate on Monday bailed four doctors held for allegedly spreading rebel propaganda before the defeat of the Tamil Tigers. The doctors were arrested in May after they left an area where security forces fought the final battle against the separatist rebels.

“They have been asked to post one million rupees (8,800 dollars) cash bail and report to the police every month,” a court official said.

The government had accused the four of putting out propaganda for the Tigers, but the United Nations and the International Red Cross said they had relied on them to coordinate relief.

During a government-arranged press conference last month, the doctors said they were under pressure from the Tigers to inflate casualty figures.

The UN reported that more than 7,000 civilians may have perished in the fighting during this year, while the government insisted that no civilians were killed by its own troops.

Authorities prevented journalists and international observers from accessing the war zone, where the Red Cross reported an “unimaginable humanitarian catastrophe”.

The decades-long ethnic conflict ended in May t