Sri Lankan president postpones British visit: official

November 5, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse has postponed a planned visit to Britain, due to a busy schedule rather than fears of a arrest over alleged war crimes, a foreign ministry official said Friday. Rajapakse had planned to address the Oxford Union during his tour later this month.

But the Times of India reported Friday that the president had called off the trip fearing arrest under British law over alleged war crimes against Tamil Tiger rebels.

Sri Lankan External Affairs ministry director general Bandual Jayasekera brushed aside the report, saying Rajapakse was busy with ceremonies linked to the inauguration of his second term on November 19.

“The president is busy with engagements right now, and the visit was postponed till December, not cancelled. The new dates have not been fixed and the British authorities were informed about the change,” Jayasekera said.

Under British law, war crimes against humanity can be prosecuted even if they were not committed in the country.

The Times of India said the Global Tamil Forum, who has been in the forefront of anti-Rajapakse campaign in Britain, were planning to push for the president’s arrest on British soil.


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