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UN Envoy Concludes Sri Lanka Execution Video Authentic

by AFP, May 30, 2011

"What is reflected in the extended video are crimes of the highest order -- definitive war crimes," said Christof Heyns, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

UN envoy concludes Sri Lanka execution video authenticAFP/Journalists For Democracy – This handout screen grab taken off video provided by Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka and shot … – Mon May 30, 12:34 pm ET

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GENEVA (AFP) – A UN envoy confirmed Monday that a video allegedly depicting Sri Lanka troops executing Tamil Tigers was authentic, and that the action were "definitive war crimes".

"What is reflected in the extended video are crimes of the highest order -- definitive war crimes," said Christof Heyns, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

"I believe that the prima facie case of serious international crimes has been made by the video that I've examined," he told the UN Human Rights Council.

"The inquiry should now be taken to a further level on an international as well as on domestic level."

AFP/Journalists For Democracy – This handout screen grab taken off video provided by Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka and shot … – Mon May 30, 12:34 pm ET

GENEVA (AFP) – A UN envoy confirmed Monday that a video allegedly depicting Sri Lanka troops executing Tamil Tigers was authentic, and that the action were "definitive war crimes".

"What is reflected in the extended video are crimes of the highest order -- definitive war crimes," said Christof Heyns, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

"I believe that the prima facie case of serious international crimes has been made by the video that I've examined," he told the UN Human Rights Council.

"The inquiry should now be taken to a further level on an international as well as on domestic level."

Heyns had examined a video provided by Britain's Channel Four, which had aired extracts on August 25, 2009.

Following the broadcast of the extracts, Heyns' predecessor Philip Alston had probed the authenticity of the footage shot during the final stages of the Sri Lankan army's battle against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) separatists.

Alston concluded on January 7, 2010 that the extracts were genuine. However, his findings have been rejected by Sri Lankan authorities.

On Monday, Heyns presented findings of his own investigation into a longer version of the video -- five minutes of footage, and drew the same damning conclusion as his predecessor.

His investigation drew from findings by a forensic pathologist, two forensic video analysts, as well as a firearms expert.

Sri Lanka meanwhile used Monday's right council session to slam another UN report alleging atrocities committed by its military forces during the island's civil war, describing the charges as flawed and based on unverified information.

A UN report commissioned by Ban Ki-moon had highlighted "credible allegations" that both the Sri Lankan army and Tamil Tiger rebels had been involved in violations that could amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity.

"Sri Lanka regrets the procedural and substantive anomalies in the manifestly flawed report ostensibly compiled as an advisory document to the highest office of the UN," said Mahinda Samarasinghe, minister of plantation industries.

The minister also complained that the international community had failed to allow authorities enough time to carry out its own domestic probe, before pouring criticism against it.

"It is disconcerting to note the haste with which some have sought to usurp the government of Sri Lanka's prerogative in deciding its domestic process," he said.

Sri Lanka ambassador Kshenuka Senewiratne separately described the report as "based on unverified information and also unsourced."

The envoy had harsh words for UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay after she called for an international probe on the allegations.

"The continued demonstrable lack of objectivity and impropriety on the part of the HCHR (High Commissioner for Human Rights) does not augur well on the work of her office in constructive engagement with the government of Sri Lanka which we have consistently sought through our interactions," claimed the envoy.