'Mirusuvil massacre a crime against humanity' -State Counsel

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 11 February 2003, 19:54 GMT]
The massacre of eight innocent Tamil civilians, including a five-year-old boy, by the accused soldiers of the Sri Lanka Army, was a crime against humanity, said State Counsel Mr.Sarath Jayamanne, in his opening address at the trial-at-bar inquiry into the Mirusuvil massacre case Tuesday afternoon. The three-member bench of the trial-at-bar comprised High Court Judges, Mr.I.M. Imam (Chairman), Mr.Sarath Ambepitya and Mr. Kumar Ekaratna, legal sources said.

In this case, the Attorney General has indicted five soldiers of the SLA for Massacring eight Tamil civilians on 19th February 2003 at Mirusuvil in the Thenmaradchi sector of Jaffna district. The charges were read out to the accused, and all the accused entered a plea of 'not guilty.'

The State Counsel further said that some soldiers of the SLA had brutally murdered eight displaced civilians from Mirusuvil following a military operation by the SLA in September 2000. "Attacking innocent civilians by the SLA in retaliation to the action of an armed group cannot be accepted," he said.

In this incident, "the army has failed to adhere military discipline," said the State Counsel. "Hence the errant soldiers should be dealt with sternly in this case," he said in concluding his opening remarks. He then led the evidence of the sole eyewitness to the massacre, Mr. Ponnuthurai Maheswaran.

Mr. Maheswaran said in his evidence that he was a resident of Mirusuvil north. Due to the military operation of the Sri Lanka Army, he and several others were displaced from their own villages and were given accommodation at Karaveddy.

Witness further said by December in 2000, displaced people started going back to their village to see their houses and do clearing work when normalcy appeared to be returning slowly in the area. On the day of the incident (December 12, 2000), the witness said, " I went to Mirusuvil accompanied by one Mr. Ravivarman. People had to pass through three checkpoints at Mulli, Kodikamam, and Mirusuvil. Eight more persons accompanied me as we went to the village to see our houses and crops. They were Ravivarman, Janasakthi, her son Santhan, Vilavaraja, his son Pratheepan (16), son Prasad, Jeyachchandra and Theivakulasingham."

At this stage inquiry was put off for Thursday, December 13.

Counsel Mr.Anil Silva and Counsel Mahinda Lockage appeared for all the five accused soldiers of the Sri Lanka Army. Counsel Mr.K.S.Ratnavelu and Counsel Mr.K.Shanmugalingam watched in the interests of the victims, legal sources said.

 

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