Key witness identifies Jaffna grave sites

[TamilNet, Monday, 30 August 1999, 12:28 GMT]
Ex. Sri Lanka Army Corporal Somaratna Rajapaksha identified five places near Jaffna town today in which, according to him, about forty-three civilians arrested and killed by Sri Lankan Security forces may lie buried. The Jaffna press was briefed on the developments by state counsel Yasantha Kothagoda this afternoon at Chemmani.

Rajapaksha showed investigators a gravesite at 'Kerniyadi' on the road from Chemmani junction to Nallur where he said the bodies of 10-15 civilians were buried by the SLA in a 10 by 15 feet pit.

Two of the civilians killed and buried here, according to Rajapaksha, were a husband and wife who were arrested at Ariyalai while watching a movie.

'Kerniyadi' is about hundred yards from the SLA checkpoint at the Chemmani junction on Kandy road.

The ex-corporal identified the second grave site at the 'Uppalam' (old saltern) in Chemmani. He said that 20-25 civilians were buried in an abandoned bunker of the Liberation Tigers at this spot.

The SLA had brought the bodies in tractors from Atchuvely and Kaithady; and as there had been not enough sand to cover the pit, according to Rajapaksha, it had to be brought from another area. Most of bodies were naked and a few had underwear.

He told investigators that a government officer called Mr. S.Gunaratnam who had close relations with the SLA at the time was also aware of this.

Sources in the north said that Mr. Gunaratnam was the Director of Agrarian Services in the peninsula at the time and is currently employed by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) in Jaffna.

The third grave site shown to investigators by Rajapaksha lies between a small water tank by a 'Poovarasu' tree and the 'Theruvalippillaiyar' temple on Kandy road in the Chemmani area.

Here, according to the ex-corporal, a Hindu priest ('Iyer') and his assistant who had come on a Charlie motorcycle were killed and buried. The motorcycle was also buried with the two bodies said Rajapaksha.

The fourth grave site was identified by the 'Theruvalippillaiyar' temple (Now known as the Nulaivayil Pilliyar). Three bodies, according to Rajapaksha are buried here. ( Correction: first reported as five bodies)

He identified a graves under the plastic water tank by the 'Poovarasu' tree where two bodies had been buried.

Rajapaksha said that there is another grave site at the spot where investigators and the Jaffna courts set up a tent this morning on the Kandy road in front of the spot where the Hindu priest and his assistant were allegedly killed and buried by the SLA. He said there were many bodies here.

Investigators told the press that Rajapaksha would identify the other alleged grave sites tomorrow since he was feeling tired this afternoon.

 

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