A group of Sri Lankan doctors who have been in police custody for nearly two months were brought before the media yesterday to recant their reports of mass civilian casualties during the final days of the civil war.
The men, who looked well-fed but nervous, denied they were withdrawing their statements under government pressure, even as they expressed hopes they might now be released. A rights group said there were "significant grounds to question whether these statements were voluntary".
Their new testimony featured drastically reduced death tolls.
With journalists banned from the war zone, the doctors were left as one of the few sources of information about the toll the fighting was taking on civilians. At the time, the doctors gave harrowing accounts of the damage and described how the vast number of wounded civilians overwhelmed their makeshift hospitals as they ran low on food, medicine, supplies and staff.