Court to protest Chemmani excavations plan

[TamilNet, Friday, 12 February 1999, 00:00 GMT]
Legal sources in Jaffna expressed shock and dismay at the statement by the Sri Lanka's foreign Ministry on Wednesday and by the SLA spokesman, Brig.Sunil Tennekoon yesterday that the alleged mass grave at Chemmani would be exhumed on March 5, according to orders of the Jaffna court.

They said that the Jaffna district additional judge Mr.S.A.E Ekanathan had only postponed the case to March 5 and that he had not even inspected the site of the alleged grave in Chemmani on January 8 as claimed in the foreign ministry statement.

They said the action of the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry and the army spokesman constituted a blatant interference in the judicial process and contempt of the courts.

They said the Foreign Ministry statement of February 10 which says, inter alia " On January 8, after visiting the area the magistrate S.A.E Ekanathan observed that the area in question was inundated due to heavy rains and the ground condition was not conducive for exhumation work to begin immediately; in the circumstances the magistrate ordered that the exhumation work be carried out on March, 5 1999."

Jaffna legal sources said that this is a total fabrication by the Foreign Ministry.

The foreign ministry's claim was reiterated by the SLA spokesman Brigadier Sunil Tennekoon at the cabinet press briefing yesterday.

The military spokesman (MS) and the Foreign Ministry (FM) stated that independent forensic experts, media and NGOs would be permitted to see the exhumation which, according to the MS and the FM, is "to commence on March 5".

On January 8 the Criminal Investigation Division of the Sri Lankan Police made an application in the Jaffna courts:

1. to obtain an order for exhumation of the alleged human remains at Chemmani.

2. to order the commissioner of prisons to produce suspect ex-Lance Corporal Rajapaksa to identify the alleged place of burial at Chemmani.

3. to order Prof.Chandrasiri Niriella (forensic expert) and M.A.J Mendis, additional government analyst (ballistic), to assist the exhumation work.

The judge allowed only the application for obtaining the services of the forensic expert and the government analyst, instructing the CID to also secure the expertise of a soil analyst.

The judge on Jan.8 put off inquiry into the other applications by the CID, i.e. for exhuming the alleged gravesite and for producing the ex-Lance Corporal to identify site at Chemmani, for March 5.

The judge ordered the CID to take a copy of the court proceedings on January 8.

In these circumstances, the pronouncements of the Foreign Ministry and SLA spokesman are blatant fabrications and constitute contempt of court and interference in the judicial process said a Jaffna legal source.

The matter, in the first place, is also sub judice he added.

The Jaffna additional judge will be sending a strong complaint to the judicial services commission today the sources said.


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