Tamil activists seek arrest of Rajapaksa during Britain visit over last year’s war crimes

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

LONDON - Lawyers working for Tamil activists are reportedly trying to obtain an arrest warrant against Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and one of his senior associates, who have arrived in Britain, over ‘war crimes and human rights violations’ during the last phase of combat between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) last year.

According to the Guardian, Rajapaksa, who is on an official visit to the United Kingdom at the invitation of Oxford University, is due to speak at the institution on Thursday. He is also expected to meet the Defence Secretary Liam Fox.

The visit comes as Tamil supporters claim to have acquired a video showing a former Tamil Tiger colonel being interrogated by Sri Lankan forces, and amid allegation from his family that he was killed after surrendering.

On his arrival at Heathrow airport, a large number of LTTE-supporters demonstrated protests at the venue on Monday evening, and more are expected in Oxford later this week, the paper said.

The paper quoted Sen Kandiah, founder of the British Tamil Forum, an umbrella group representing Tamils in the UK, as saying that they were working to have an arrest warrant issued against the President.

“We have instructed a prominent legal firm and have spoken to former lord chancellors.

We know that at least 40,000 civilians were killed at the end of the war. This man was the commander in chief and he’s coming to speak to the Oxford Union. He should face a proper trial,” Kandiah added.

The UK accepts universal jurisdiction for war crimes offences, which means that those accused of atrocities can be arrested in Britain wherever the offence was allegedly committed. However the justice secretary, Ken Clarke, announced earlier this year that the legislation would be amended so that any prosecutions would require the assent of the director of public prosecutions, the paper added.

Rajapaksa had earlier constituted an eight-member commission on ” Lessons Learned and Reconciliation” to internally investigate the end of the country’s civil war. (ANI)

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