Sri Lanka slams UN over war crimes probe

Chandi Dharmaratne

June 23, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lanka accused the UN on Wednesday of a “hidden agenda” behind its plans to investigate alleged human rights abuses by soldiers in the final months of the island’s savage civil war. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s appointment of a panel to advise on any violations of international human rights was “an attempt to provide oxygen” to the defeated Tamil Tigers, government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said.

Sri Lankan troops finally wiped out the separatist guerrillas in May last year after decades of ethnic bloodshed, and the government has denied repeated allegations that thousands of civilians were killed in the fighting.

“The United Nations and its secretary-general have revealed their hidden agenda in no uncertain terms,” Rambukwella said in remarks posted on a government website.

Ban’s move followed international pressure for an independent probe into the allegations that thousands of ethnic Tamil civilians were killed by government troops, and surrendering rebels executed in cold blood, in the final offensive.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said in a statement Tuesday that the panel would be chaired by Marzuki Darusman from Indonesia, the UN’s special en