Sri Lanka president defiant over war probe

NEW DELHI, June 28, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s president vowed to resist international calls to investigate war crimes allegedly committed during the country’s civil war in an interview published Monday. President Mahinda Rajapakse told the Times of India he did not care about damage to the country’s image as a result of resisting pressure from the United Nations and Western countries to submit to an enquiry.

“Why should I worry about others?” the president said in an interview in Colombo. “If India and neighbours are good with me, that is enough for me.”

Rajapakse’s government has ignored calls to investigate allegations that thousands of civilians were killed along with surrendering rebels during the final months of the fighting that ended in May last year.

Sri Lanka has refused to cooperate with a panel named by UN chief Ban Ki-moon last week to advise on “accountability issues” during the conflict, which pitted government forces against Tamil Tiger separatists.

Asked about the risk of losing European Union trade concessions worth an estimated 150 million dollars a year because of his resistance to EU pressure, Rajapakse replied: “I am not bothered.”

“If the EU doesn’t