Tisara Samarasinghe ‘not named’ for war crimes: John Dowd

Wednesday, 19 October 2011 00:54 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

A brief of evidence supplied to the Australian Federal Police accusing the Sri Lankan Government of war crimes during its 2009 assault on the Tamil Tigers does not name Colombo’s top Envoy to Australia, Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe.

The President of the Australian wing of the International Commission of Jurists, John Dowd QC, said the dossier, a copy of which was also supplied to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, did not accuse individuals of war crimes.

“We have called on the AFP to investigate war crimes but have not indicated any particular defendant or person,” Dowd said.

His remarks are at odds with media reporting yesterday suggesting Samarasinghe, who was head of the Sri Lankan Navy during the final stages of the conflict, should be investigated for war crimes.

Samarasinghe, who as Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Australia could be excepted to enjoy diplomatic immunity, yesterday rejected any suggestion of wrongdoing, either on his part or any arm of the Sri Lankan Government or military.

He said the Sri Lankan Navy did not fire into the no-fire zones established in the closing chapters of the war and where tens of thousands of civilians had congregated on the assurance they would not be targeted.

“There was legal instruction, we respected that to the word,” Samarasinghe said.

Samarasinghe said he had not been contacted by the AFP or anyone from the Australian Government about the ICJ brief, nor did he expect to.

Dowd said the brief contained fresh evidence of war crimes, including statements taken from witnesses in Australia and Sri Lanka, the Australian reports.