Feature Article

Colombo strengthens impunity for genocidal Sinhala commander

[TamilNet, Monday, 02 April 2018, 23:13 GMT]
Jaffna High Court Judge Manickavasagam Ilancheliyan on Monday gave green signal to proceed with the cases of habeas corpus seeking a senior commander of the SL Military to produce three of twenty-five Tamil youth, whose whereabouts are not known after the SL Army at Naavatkuzhi detained them 22 years ago in 1996. The SL Police instructed by the Judge to investigate the case stated that it was impossible for them to investigate the case as more than 20 years have elapsed since the disappearance of the victims. The first respondent is Major General Duminda Keppettiwalana, who commanded the Sinhala soldiers of the military camp at Naavatkuzhi in 1996 when he was a captain. He has been systematically protected and promoted by Sarath Fonseka, the former SL Army commander and a partner of the current regime in Colombo.

The SL Justice system has already scuttled the habeas corpus cases filed on behalf of the families of 9 victims.

As that case still pending at Anuradhapura court, the court in Chaavakachcheari should take up the case on behalf of the families of three other victims as a new case and consider issuing a writ of habeas corpus directing the SL Commander, or the Attorney General at his absence, to produce the confined persons.

The case was taken up at Jaffna High Court on Monday. A lawyer appeared on behalf of the first respondent, Major General Duminda Keppettiwalana.

Maj. Gen. Duminda Keppetiwalana
Maj. Gen. Duminda Keppetiwalana
Keppetiwalana was a captain rank officer and was in charge of a military camp located at Naavatkuzhi in 1996 when Chandrika Kumaratunga Bandaranaike waged a brutal war against Eezham Tamils.

The occupying Sinhala soldiers committed brutal rapes and massacres at that time. One of these came to be known as Chemma'ni mass graves.

Already at that time, Capt. Keppetiwalana became a close confidante of the then Brigadier Sarath Fonseka (now a Field Marshal), who played a crucial role in the battle to capture Jaffna from the control of the LTTE in 1995.

Fonseka maintained close rapport with Keppetwalana, who rose to the rank of Lt. Col. following his brutal acts in Jaffna.

A habeas corpus case, lodged on behalf of 9 families of the 25 enforced disappeared from Naavatkuzhi, was taken up by the courts in Chaavakachcheari in 2002.

However, Sarath Fonseka, who by then had become commander of Jaffna with the rank of major general, managed to transfer the case away from Jaffna to Anuradhapura influencing the courts in Colombo.

The Tamil judges taking strict measures against him were also demoted and transferred away from Jaffna.

Keppetiwalana continued with his brutal acts to the end of genocidal onslaught in Vanni in 2009 and emerged as a Brigadier.

After the war, he became a Commandant of SL Army Combat Training School, based in Ampaa'ari.

However, his position didn't last long as the Rajapaksa regime went against Sarath Fonseka and his aides.

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa detained Brigadier Keppetiwalana initially blaming him for indirect complicity in the assassination of journalist Lasantha Wikramatunge.

Later, relieved from the military service Keppetiwalana went abroad.

Following the regime change in 2015, Keppetiwalana returned from exile and SL President Maithiripala Sirisena reinstated his military position.

Keppetiwalana became Director Operations at SL Army HQ in February 2015.

At the same year, he demonstrated the ‘discipline’ of a high ranking officer of the Sri Lankan military by engaging in a public fisticuff with the SL military defence attaché, who was also a brigadier, and that too in a foreign country, Pakistan.

SL President and Commander-in-Chief of the genocidal military Maithiripala Sirisena posted the ‘vetted’ Brigadier as the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of 66 Division in Poonakari (Pooneryn) of Ki'linochchi district.

Within a year, he was promoted to the rank of Major General, in May 2017.

The SL President has transferred Keppetiwalana back to South as the case against him was being taken up in Jaffna.

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