Sri Lankan war atrocities purportedly shown in British documentary


A British documentary has been released that contains images implicating Sri Lanka's military in atrocities carried out during the country's civil war.

Those killed included Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and his 12-year-old son, who appear to have been summarily executed, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Bodies shown in the documentary, to be aired Wednesday on Britain’s Channel 4, appear to have multiple bullet wounds, suggesting execution at close range, the WSJ reported.

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the UN Human Rights Council is investigating whether Sri Lanka's military acted illegally during the final stages of the war.

Footage contained in the Channel 4 documentary dates from May 18, 2009.

The British journalist who made the documentary, Callum Macrae, described the images in his film in a commentary in The Independent, under the headline "Sri Lanka: A child is summarily executed."

"A 12-year-old boy lies on the ground. He is stripped to the waist and has five neat bullet holes in his chest.

His name is Balachandran Prabakaran and he is the son of the LTTE leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran.

"He has been executed in cold blood. Beside him lie the bodies of five men, believed to be his bodyguards.

"There are strips of cloth on the ground indicating that they were tied and blindfolded before they were shot — further evidence suggesting that the Sri Lankan government forces had a systematic policy of executing many surrendering or captured LTTE fighters and leading figures, even if they were children."

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka's military was preparing its own documentary on the final battle with Tamil rebels as a response to the allegations of war crimes, Agence France-Presse reported.

AFP quoted army chief Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya as saying in a speech to troops on Monday that the documentary would clarify events leading to the death of rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.

"We have nothing to fear. We also want to tell the story of how Prabhakaran was killed," Jayasuriya reportedly said.

The WSJ wrote that the images — stills of which were carried in Indian papers Tuesday — were "testing India’s policy of neutrality toward its neighbor."

Indian lawmakers from the largely Tamil south criticized New Delhi’s failure to pressure Sri Lanka to investigate war crimes as part of a reconciliation process.

"So this is an execution scene with five men dead and a young boy," the expert says in the documentary.

"The five men, their arms are behind their backs, they're freshly dead. They look as if they've been tied but there's no ties visible except in the last man whom we see.

"This is the same pattern that we see in the other footage, where prisoners are tied with their hands behind their back, blindfolded, knelt on the ground and then shot."

The vision was taken in May 2009, just as Sri Lanka's military was in the process of mopping up in the final stages of the civil war.

Journalist and a former spokesman for the UN in Sri Lanka, Gordon Weiss, says the pictures show very powerful evidence of war crimes having been committed.

"It's visual evidence of a couple of specific murders that took place in the battlefield," he said.

"Now the government of Sri Lanka has always denied that its forces were guilty of any wrongdoing whatsoever, but in one of these sequences you see Sri Lankan military officers interrogating a senior Tamil commander before he is forced to change from civilian clothes into military fatigues and is then killed.

"In the other sequence you see the son of the former Tamil Tiger leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, who has been shot dead on the ground and another five men who have been bound and shot next to him."

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