|Makeshift hospital in Vanni 2010|
The Army Court of Inquiry appointed by the Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya VSV USP ndu psc to investigate the controversial Channel 4 claims referred to in the LLRC Report, completed their inquiry concerning the 1st Part of their investigation with regard to the allegation of excessive civilian casualties that said to have been caused due to heavy shellings.
The Court of Inquiry comprised of;
Major General Chrishantha De Silva RWP USP - President
Major General Sumedha Perera WWV RWP RSP - Member
Brigadier Ruwan Kulatunga RSP - Member
Brigadier Ruwan De Silva IG - Member
Brigadier Aruna Wijewickrema - Member
Lieutenant Colonel Lalith Herath RSP - Secretary
On Friday (15), the President of the Court of Inquiry Major General Chrishantha De Silva RWP USP handed over the Court of Inquiry (C of I) Report to the Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya VSV USP ndu psc at the Army Headquarters.
Considering the evidence presented before it, the Court has concluded that the Army High Command had addressed their minds to International Humanitarian Law (IHL) well in advance as far back 1990s and all troops have been educated to observe the standard procedures that are followed to prevent civilian casualties.
Evidence before the court has conclusively established that the Humanitarian Operation was conducted strictly in accordance with the “Zero Civilian Casualty” directive made by His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksha and commanders at all times obeyed the said directive and the directives from the higher headquarters with regard to No Fire Zones (NFZs) and even where the LTTE terrorists had fired from NFZs, commanders refrained from firing at such NFZs. It has also been revealed that artillery commanders had added 500 m to the boundaries of NFZs given by higher headquarters thereby extending the boundaries of NFZs by 500 m.
Evidence revealed that at all stages of the Humanitarian Operation, the Sri Lanka Army behaved as a well-disciplined military force observing the IHL and law of war and they took all the precautions to avoid civilian casualties and all those who came under the control of the Sri Lanka Army, including surrendered/captured LTTE cadres, were treated humanely observing the IHL to the letter. On the contrary, shocking details of war crimes committed by LTTE terrorists such as using of civilian as Human Shields, summary executions of civilians who attempted to escape to army lines, forced conscription of children for combat purposes were revealed at the inquiry. The court noted that the international community had failed in their duty to stop the war crimes committed by the LTTE terrorists.
From the testimony presented, the C of I concluded that the instances of shellings referred to in the LLRC Report were not caused by the Sri Lanka Army and civilian casualties might have occurred due to unlawful acts by LTTE. These acts include targeting civilians fleeing to the safety of Army held areas and likely routes of escape, dropping of artillery rounds fired by ill-trained LTTE gunners on to civilian concentrations, employment of sub-standard artillery guns and incompatible and sub-standard artillery rounds obtained from illegal sources by the LTTE, forced conscription of civilians including children and old people by LTTE for combat purposes, thus exposing them to danger.
The C of I will now proceed to investigate the 2nd part of their mandate, to wit Channel 4 allegation on summary executions of captured LTTE terrorists.
The Commander of the Army will study the Court of Inquiry Report and hand over the Report along with his observations to Secretary Defence in due course
- Press release from the Directorate of Media, Army Headquarters/ MoD