US war crimes envoy visits Sri Lanka site

COLOMBO, January 9, 2014 (AFP) – A top US official investigating war crimes has visited a former Sri Lankan battleground where hundreds of families were killed in army shelling, the US embassy said Thursday, triggering an angry response from Colombo. The US Ambassador for Global Criminal Justice Stephen Rapp spent Wednesday and Thursday travelling in the northern province where Sri Lankan troops defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels in May 2009, said the embassy in Colombo.

“St Anthany’s Ground – site of Jan 2009 killing of hundreds of families by army shelling,” the embassy said in a tweet, posting a photo on Twitter of Rapp with the US ambassador to Sri Lanka Michele Sison during their trip to the north.

The blunt comments come after Rapp arrived on Monday to meet local officials and politicians over allegations of war crimes ahead of a United Nations review of Colombo’s human rights record.

Sri Lanka’s military accused the US embassy on Thursday of making “baseless allegations”.

“This could be part of a much larger campaign that they (the US) intend launching in the near future,” Sri Lanka’s military spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya said in a statement.

“It could also be an attempt to give credence to otherwise baseless a