Genocide the Tamil people in Srilanka

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sri Lanka video is 'astonishing evidence'

A leading war crimes lawyer tells Channel 4 News the video apparently showing men taking part in executions in Sri Lanka is "astonishing evidence" and the United Nations must act.

Last week, Channel 4 News screened new footage showing an alleged massacre of Tamil prisoners in Sri Lanka.

New evidence has since emerged over the possible identities of one of the victims as well as on which soldiers may be responsible. The video has been sent to the United Nations panel which is currently investigating whether to hold an international inquiry on what happened during the 26-year war in Sri Lanka.

Channel 4 News spoke to war crimes lawyer Julian Knowles of Matrix Chambers about the video and what could happen next.

Can I ask you what your initial view is of what this video, what we've learned from evidence contained in it, what it says to you about possible war crimes?

What you've got here is clear evidence of the execution of unarmed combatants or civilians. It doesn't matter which they are, they're both prohibited under the Geneva Convention and they are both ranked as what we call a grave breach of the Geneva Convention so they are crimes in international law.

And whether these are combatants or whether they're civilians, their hands are tied, they're blindfolded, there's no evidence of any weapons, so we clearly have executions here which are a crime in international law and one of the most serious crimes.

And does the fact that we now know pretty much exactly when it happened and roughly the location, does that have a bearing on a possible future trial?

The evidence that you've uncovered with this video, and what this video shows, is absolutely crucial in the forensic process because it allows you to identify the troops on the ground, the unit which they are from, their local commanders and the higher level commanders. Because if you know the region, the Sri Lankan government will know what troops it had and at what time. So because you know the date and because you know pretty precisely the location, the Sri Lankan government, if it had the will, would be able to identify who is responsible for these executions and that would obviously be crucial in any trial, if you want to put on trial both the soldiers who actually pull the trigger and the commanders who gave them the order to do so.


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