Genocidal Colombo causes new obstacles to investigations on Mannaar mass graves

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 01 August 2017, 21:33 GMT]
Colombo-based Special Branch of Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the Police of genocidal Sri Lanka is once again causing obstacles to judicial investigations of 87 human skeletons exhumed from the mass graves of the killing fields at Thirukkeatheesvaram near Maanthai junction in Mannaar. At a crucial juncture when Mannaar Magistrate A G Alex Raja fixed a date to instruct the CID to send the skeletons to one of the proposed foreign institutions to undertake forensic anthropological analysis and to invite foreign experts during the next phase of exhumation of the alleged mass grave site, the CID has turned to SL Judicial Service Commission with an allegation that Mr Alex Raja was taking sides with the lawyers representing the victims. The move was intended to put an immediate stop to external investigations and involving foreign experts in the future excavations of mass graves.

The move also seeks to replace the Judge or transfer the case to another court, legal sources in Mannaar said.

The locality where human skeletons were exhumed was under the control of the occupying Sri Lankan military during the times of war and the site was used as a rear base of the SL military that uprooted the Tamil people from the area in 1990. Until 2002 the area was a ‘high security zone’.

In 2014, as soon as the discovery of the mass graves, Rt. Rev. Dr. Rayappu Joseph, the catholic bishop of Mannaar, called for international investigations to be conducted on the mass grave located in Thirukkeatheesvaram as Sri Lanka has systematically failed to carry out any investigations on similar findings in the past.

Staging a special mass and prayer service at the St Lourde’s church at Maanthai, just across the massacre site in February 2014, Bishop Rayappu said: “We have lost faith in any local mechanism that investigates the killings. Instead, we need independent international investigation that has no political affiliation, and we should witness the investigation.”

Ever since the allegation of mass graves surfaced, Colombo's CID has been trying to delay the process of excavating the site.

Later, the CID was trying to claim that it was a burial site. The native people, who were living at the village of Thirukkeatheesvaram before their displacement in 1990 and who have accessed the area after they were allowed to resettle there, have strongly refuted the claim of the CID.

When the Magistrate demanded forensic analysis on the exhumed skeletens, the CID was also trying to sabotage the move by stating that there was no experts in the island to carry out DNA or forensic anthropological analyses.

Now, they have approached the Judicial Service Commission as the Magistrate was prepared to issue a final instruction on forensic analysis.

Attorney-at-Law V.S. Niranjan, who represented the families of missing persons said the allegation of the CID was completely wrong. It was the CID that said it was impossible to carry out forensic analysis without securing foreign expertise. The Judge was only doing his job. Mr Niranjan also said that Magistrate Alex Raja was citing the records of previous sessions on the matter during the last hearing on 28 July, 2017.

As the CID has come with an allegation against Mannaar Magistrate, the process now depends on the opinion of the Judicial Service Commission, which is awaited, the Magistrate has told in the open hearings on 28 July, Mr Niranjan further said.

The CID has also accused the Magistrate of addressing them in ‘strong tone’. The reasons for his strong tone stem from the attitude of the CID in the past it has nothing to do with the neutrality of the Magistrate, the lawyer added.

The Magistrate has also referred to the records of the previous Magistrate on the issue, he said.

The CID was not only dilly dallying the legal process so far since the Magistrate took a firm stand in November 2015, but also hiding from appearing at the courts at times.

Due to the latest development, the next hearing has been postponed to October 20th.



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