Sri Lanka 'atrocity' video revives calls for inquiry

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The Independent Online

A video purportedly showing troops shooting blindfolded, naked Tamils in the final months of Sri Lanka's civil war has revived calls for a war crimes investigation and cast a shadow over the upcoming presidential elections.

The controversy heated up after a UN human rights investigator said the footage – reportedly shot by a soldier with a mobile phone – appeared to be authentic.

Sri Lankan officials said yesterday that the video was a fabrication, rejected any war crimes inquiry and said that the UN investigator, Philip Alston was prejudiced against the country. "We believe his conclusions are highly subjective and biased," Sri Lanka's Human Rights Minister, Mahinda Samarasinghe, said. "We believe he is on a crusade of his own to force a war crimes inquiry against Sri Lanka." UN reports say that more than 7,000 civilians were killed in the months leading up to the government's victory over the rebels in May.

The revived focus on possible abuses could complicate the island nation's efforts to close the book on its quarter-century civil war and attract the aid needed to fund its rebuilding plans.

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