Chemmani witness speaks of killings, names officers

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 16 June 1999, 15:17 GMT]
Investigators digging at Chemmani, a location in the Jaffna peninsula, where mass graves of civilians are alleged to be buried have found what appears to be the remains of human knee, said sources. Meanwhile, Somaratne Rajapakse, a key witness has given details of the killings of people who he says were later buried in the graves.

The discovery of the human knee, along with a what appears to be part of blue trousers, occurred at about 4.30 p.m. Wednesday after two hours of digging at the Chemmani site, said sources

The exhumation will continue tomorrow, they added.

Meanwhile, according to court sources, Somaratne Rajapakse, a former Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldier said he was aware of 18 grave sites in the Chemmani and Ariyalai areas, of which he could show the definite locations of ten and indicate the rough locations of five.

Rajapakse said that while he was stationed at the Ariyalai SLA camp, several Tamil youth and young women who were detained by SLA troops were brought there and tortured to death.

He said some of them were beaten to death, according to the sources

In some cases, entire families were killed in the camp, he had said.

According to Amnesty International several hundred civilians arrested by the SLA in the Jaffna peninsula were tortured to death or deliberately killed in military custody, and their bodies disposed of in shallow graves.

Rajapakse said he had come to know that the grave site had been tampered with since his revelations about the mass graves in July 1998.

Human rights activists say residents in areas close to Chemmani reported heavy military activity in the Chemmani area late last year, several months after Rajapakse’s statement.

Residents also reported columns of smoke rising from the location, according to the human rights activists.

Court sources said today that Rajapakse had also mentioned names of SLA officers who, according to him, were in charge of the torture camps.

He said these officers would be able to reveal further details of what happened to the civilians, were they to be questioned.

Rajapakse was sentenced to death last year for his involvement in the rape and murder of Jaffna schoolgirl Krishanthy Kumaraswamy and her mother, brother and neighbour, but says he only helped bury the victims’ bodies.


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