Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sri Lankan war crimes video is authentic, Times investigation finds

Posted by Christian  |  at  26.12.09

A disturbing video captured on a cell phone showing what appears to be Sri Lankan troops committing war crimes is genuine, says Grant Fredericks, an independent forensic video specialist. The Times asked Mr.Fredericks to study the footage after the Sri Lankan government claimed they had “established beyond doubt” the footage was doctored.
“This level of subtle detail cannot be virtually reproduced. This is clearly an original recording,” said Mr Fredericks, who was previously the head of the Vancouver police forensic video unit in Canada.

In Mr Fredericks’s opinion “the injury to the head of the second victim and the oozing liquid from that injury cannot be reproduced realistically without editing cuts, camera angle changes and special effects. No [errors] exist anywhere in any of the images that support a technical fabrication of the events depicted,” he said.
The findings bolster former head of the army, General Sarath Fonseka's charge that the Defence Minister had ordered surrendering Tiger leaders be killed rather than taken prisoner in the final days of the conflict. They may even spark an independent investigation into the alleged war crimes, carried out by both sides.

In a ruling which stunned several human rights organizations this past May, the United Nations Human Rights Council not only rejected calls for an inquiry into the alleged abuses, but praised the Sri Lankan government in the process. The government for its part, has been quick to lash out at critics, accusing them of wanting to "bring the government of Sri Lanka into disrepute, through fabricated allegations and concocted stories."

In October the U.S. State Department released a report which found that allegations of human rights abuses in the final days of the country's civil war were "credible and well substantiated"
Although the US stressed the allegations in the report did not constitute an accusation of war crimes, the Sri Lankan foreign affairs ministry in Colombo accused the US of smearing its reputation. "The allegations against the government of Sri Lanka ... appear to be unsubstantiated and devoid of corroborative evidence. There is a track record of vested interests endeavouring to bring the government of Sri Lanka into disrepute, through fabricated allegations and concocted stories."

Stephen Rapp, the US ambassador-at-large for war crimes, called on Sri Lanka to investigate allegations of abuse by both sides. "We want accountability in this situation," he said. "We believe that [Sri Lankan authorities] can investigate this. We're trusting in that commitment."
No, the irony of the U.S. State Department calling for accountability does not escape me. At any rate, as the months go by and evidence mounts, the case for a proper investigation is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. U.N Secretary~General Ban Ki-moon announced the HNHRC would go forward, contingent on reliable new evidence. If this is not enough to satisfy the body and they choose not to act, in my view, they render themselves expendable. Leaving it in hands of the Sri Lankan government won't suffice.


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