Sri Lanka to take action if war crimes claims true

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Sri Lanka on Wednesday denied it targeted civilians while crushing Tamil Tiger rebels but said action would be taken if any allegations of atrocities were proved to be true.

The Sri Lankan High Commission in London said images shown in a documentary by Britain's Channel 4 on Tuesday night had not been verified as genuine and the disturbing footage could cause hatred among Sri Lankan communities.

However, it added that a local panel known as the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) was ready to take note of the claims and take remedial legal action.

"If the allegations levelled by Channel 4 or any other party are found to be genuine, the LLRC will take due note of all such cases and remedial measures will be taken by way of legal sanctions," the statement said.

Sri Lanka had previously insisted that there will be no investigation because no war crimes had been committed by its troops while defeating Tamil Tigers by May 2009.

It has refused to allow a three-member UN expert panel to visit the island nation to probe such claims.

The panel, however, reported in April that there were "credible allegations" that Sri Lankan troops killed thousands of civilians.

The Channel 4 documentary, "Sri Lanka's Killing Fields", contained footage of what it said were prisoner executions.

It also showed the bodies of female Tamil fighters who appeared to have been sexually assaulted by government forces.

The programme also provided evidence to suggest that the Tamil Tiger fighters had also committed war crimes.

Two UN investigators have confirmed the video as authentic, but the Sri Lankan authorities maintain it is fake.

The 50-minute film also included footage of the aftermath of the targeted shelling of civilian hospitals.

© 2011 AFP

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