New mass grave claims

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 16 June 1999, 10:54 GMT]
The inquiry into the alleged Chemmani mass graves in Jaffna took a dramatic turn today when a key witness, former Sri Lanka Army soldier Somaratna Rajapkse told the Special Magistrate, M.Illancheliyan that he could identify more places where bodies of civilians were buried, in addition to his earlier disclosures, court sources said.

The inquiry into the mass graves said to be located at Chemmani commenced Wednesday morning before a specially appointed Magistrate in the presence of the representatives of Amnesty International, Asia Foundation and Physicians for Human Rights.

Rajapkse, who has been sentenced to death for his involvement in the rape and murder of Krishanthy Kumaraswamy and her mother, brother and neighbour, was produced before the Magistrate during the morning. Rajapakse says he only helped bury the victims' bodies.

Rajapakse told court that he could identify more places where several bodies of persons killed by SLA troops were buried, in addition to the Chemmani site.

Rajapakse said that several bodies were buried in Aiyalai East and Poompuhar.

Thereafter, the Magistrate, accompanied by legal officers, police investigators, forensic and soil experts went to the site of the alleged mass graves in Chemmani.

Rajapakse was also taken to the site under heavy security.

At the time of this report being filed, the magistrate and his team have not returned from the Chemmani site.

In the meantime, another soldier convicted in the Krishanthi rape and murder case, D.M.Jayatilake has told one of the Commissioners of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka that he also knew several sites in Jaffna where the bodies of civilians have were disposed of by the SLA.

According to commission sources, several bodies were dumped in three wells at Nedunkulam, Post office junction and near Poddukaddu Pilliyar Kovil (temple).

Thereafter, those wells were covered by sand using bulldozers, according Jayatilake.

Jayatilake had also volunteered to locate the wells where dead bodies were dumped, sources said.

Judicial sources claim that with the latest disclosures by Rajapakse and Jayatilake, the inquiry into the Chemmani mass graves may have to be dramatically widened.


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