Sri Lanka claims UN probe on execution video biased

31st May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Sri Lanka sought Tuesday to discredit the findings of a UN expert who concluded that a video allegedly depicting Sri Lanka troops executing Tamil Tigers was authentic.

"It is respectfully submitted that the process adopted in regard to the publication of the videos and subsequent steps taken ... is tainted with the fundamental vice of bias and partiality," said Mohan Pieris, Sri Lanka Attorney-General.

"The facts that the contents of the video were not made available to the Sri Lankan government by Channel Four lends support to the suspicion that the broadcast of the videos was for a collateral purpose," he added.

Christof Heyns, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, had concluded after examining a video provided by Britain's Channel Four, that the footage was authentic.

His investigation drew from findings by a forensic pathologist, two forensic video analysts, as well as a firearms expert, and came to the same conclusion as that of his predecessor Philip Alston, who had earlier looked at extracts of the video.

Pieris drew attention to the experts consulted by Heyns, noting that three out of four were the same as those used by Alston. The attorney-general claimed that engaging the same experts could have led to a "general reaffirmation of the conclusions" of Alston.

He took aim particularly at one of the experts, saying that he is a technical representative for a software brand "which was used to enhance the 2009 video."

"This procedure does not augur well for the concept of independence as after all justice... should not only be done but should appear to be done," he said.

Pieris also complained that the images contained in Heyns' report were "blurred and illegible" and "not of a quality that could be examined and therefore precluded the government from making a proper assessment."

The footage shot during the final stages of the Sri Lankan army's battle against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) separatists, is available online on the special rapporteur's webpage.

It depicts naked, blindfolded men being executed by soldiers in an open field.

The disturbing images also pan over bodies of several men, as well as showed a soldier removing the cloth covering the upper body of a female corpse. Another segment has the camera focusing around the genital area of another partially naked female corpse.

© 2011 AFP

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