Kohona under AFP spotlight over war-crime charges

[TamilNet, Thursday, 05 April 2012, 00:11 GMT]
Australian Federal Police (AFP) have said that they will evaluate a document submitted by the Australasian Federation of Tamil Associations (AFTA) charging Palitha Kohona, an Australian citizen and currently Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, over alleged war-crimes. AFP said in a letter AFTA that the referral was from the Minister for Justice, Jason Clare as a result of a correspondence to Michele Rowland, MP by AFTA.

Sydney Morning Herald reported in an investigative story in May 2011 that Dr Palitha Kohona, admitted to sending an SMS message through a European intermediary giving instructions to leaders of the Libertation Tigers to surrender. In this "white flag" incident Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers is alleged to have gunned down all the LTTE members who surrendered. The Journalist Ben Doherty appeared to have visited Sri Lanka and gathered the pertinent evidentiary information, including a statement from an eye-witness to the incident.

Following a submission to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for Kohona's complicity on war-crimes, and the SMH story, AFTA submitted in September 2011, through Michelle Rowland, to the then Minister of Justice, a 32 page legal brief titled "To Investigate The Involvement of Dr. Palitha T H Kohona in a Joint Criminal Enterprise during the Last Phase of the War in Sri Lanka," where the document described Dr Kohona's involvement in the alleged complicity in the killing of unarmed LTTE surrendees.

"Due to a reshuffle in the cabinet the submission did not get the immediate attention of the previous Minister. AFTA then requested Michelle Rowland MP to resubmit our submission to the new Minister Hon Jason Clare and the new Minister took prompt action and informed us on March 7th 2012 that he has forwarded our submission to AFP for their consideration," AFTA told TamilNet.

"The Government [Australian] takes allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other human rights violations very seriously. The Commonwealth Criminal Code act 1995 contains a range of offences for war crimesand crimes against humanity. Each of these offences applies to conduct both within and outside of Asutralia and all carry severe penalties.

"Investigation of allegations of these crimes is the responsibility of the Australian Federal Police (AFP). As such, I have forwarded Dr Rajakulendran's submission to the AFP for their consideration," the letter from the Minister of Justice, Jason Clare, to Ms Rowland said.

The submission to the ICC on war crimes charges against Kohona is still pending.


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