Ex-soldiers identify more Jaffna grave sites

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 31 August 1999, 18:35 GMT]
Fourteen places where scores of arrested Tamil civilians were allegedly killed and buried by the Sri Lanka Army in and around Chemmani near Jaffna town in 1996 and 1997 were identified today by ex-soldiers convicted in the rape and murder of the Jaffna school girl Krishanthy Kumarasamy.

The key witness in the investigations on the alleged mass graves, ex-corporal Somaratna Rajapaksha, made an application to Jaffna district judge M.Ilancheliyan when the special temporary courts set up at Chemmani resumed sittings this morning that the state counsel Yasantha Kothagoda was unduly cross examinig him as though he (Rajapaksha) was suspect.

The ex-corporal pointed out that Kothagoda was doing this despite he (Rajapaksha) being the state witness.

He said that under these circumstances he was not in a position to further identify places where the bodies of Jaffna civilians are buried in the Chemmani area. Rajapksha asked the court to allow him to seek legal advice and assistance.

Judge Ilancheliyan, having listened to his application, told the state counsel not to unduly cross examine Rajapaksha.

He allowed the ex-corporal to secure legal assistance and advice for the case.

Rajapaksha appealed to court that it was not right to keep him separated from the other witnesses in the case as he was unable to consult and discuss with them about the location and details of the alleged grave sites in Chemmani.

The judge allowed his application and instructed the Police to keep him with the other witnesses.

The ex-corporal was then taken away from the special temporary court.

The other witnesses in the case, ex-SLA soldiers Mudiyansalage Jayasingha, D.M Jayatilaka, S.A Perera and Gunasekera Priyadharshana, were meanwhile brought to Chemmani to show investigators places where bodies of civilians killed by the army in 96-97 were buried.

Jayasingha identified 4 places, Perera showed 5 and Priyadarshana 2 where the SLA had allgedly killed and buried Jaffna civilians.

D.M Jayatilaka showed investigators a place by the Kottukinaththady Pillaiyar shrine in Chemmani where he had seen 50 bodies of civilians in a bunker used by the Liberation Tigers. He told them he had put six bodies into the bunker.

The site of this grave site is about 200 meters west of the Kandy road in Chemmani.

Meanwhile, state counsel Yasantha Kothagoda told the judge that there was no objection to letting Rajapaksha consult others.

Thereafter, the key witness was brought to Chemmani around 3.30 p.m. this afternoon. Rajapksha showed a spot where he and Perera had buried three bodies, including that of a civilian named Yogeswaran who had been tied upside down and tortured before being murdered.

Another grave site was shown by him near this spot. Investigators found the area mined. Court sources said that the spot would be properly identified tomorrow once it is demined.

 

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