Ex-soldier goes to identify Jaffna mass graves

[TamilNet, Monday, 30 August 1999, 07:15 GMT]
Somaratna Rajapaksha, the SLA corporal convicted in the rape and murder of the Jaffna school girl Krishanthi Kumarasamy, told the district judge in the northern town this morning that Police investigators who questioned him on the alleged mass graves in Chemmani did not record the names of SLA officials who, according to him, were involved in the arrest and killing of more than six hundred civilians in the peninsula in 1996-97.

He and four ex-Sri Lanka Army soldiers, convicted in the Krishanthy case, were produced before the Jaffna district judge Mankikavasagar Ilancheliyan today around 10.10 a.m.

Rajapaksha told the judge that he and his family have received death threats since he came forward to reveal details about the alleged mass graves in Chemmani and Ariyalali near Jaffna town.

He said that his life has been further threatened following the publication of a report in the Sinhala daily Divaina in which his evidence had been distorted. Rajapaksha produced a copy of the Sinhala daily in court, saying that he has sought legal assistance to take action on such matters.

He stated that he has lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission about the threat to his life.

The judge told the ex-corporal that he would compare his (Rajapaksha's) original statement with that which was recorded by the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the Police to see whether there were any discrepancies.

The state counsel, Mr.Yasantha Kothagoda, told the court that Somaratna Rajapaksha would be taken to Chemmani and Ariyalai this morning to identify the nine mass graves in which, according to the ex-SLA corporal, scores of Jaffna civilians arrested killed by the army were buried.

The soldier had alleged that there were ten graves in the general area of Chemmani and Ariyalai. He identified one at Chemmani on June 16. The bodies of two civilians were discovered by investigators here.

The judge ordered that the other soldiers be kept in Police custody. The state counsel informed the courts that digging at the identified sites will begin on September 6.

Sittings will resume this afternoon at the special temporary courts at Chemmani. The state counsel Yasantha Kothagoda will hold a press briefing at the venue at 2.30 p.m. Two geological-forensic experts invited as observers were also present today at the proceedings.

 

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