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Director says video shows Sri Lanka army committed war crimes

Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal
1 November 2013

By Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal

COLOMBO (Reuters) - A documentary maker said on Friday video of a Tamil Tiger television presenter suggests she was captured alive and killed, rather than dying in the chaotic end of Sri Lanka's three decade war.

The footage is in the documentary "No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka", the fourth by British journalist and director Callum Macrae to allege the Sri Lankan army committed war crimes at the end of the separatist conflict in 2009.

Military spokesman Ruwan Wanigasooriya said the army never resorted to killing those captured or who surrendered, and disputed the authenticity of the video it said was an attempt to discredit Sri Lanka before it hosts a Commonwealth summit.

The footage shows Isaipriya, a celebrity news presenter at a rebel-run television station, half naked and being given a cloth to cover herself by people in military uniform who were heard saying they had found Tamil Tiger rebel leader Velupillai Prabakaran's daughter.

Isaipriya, whose body was found at the end of the war on May 18, 2009, is seen telling her captors: "No, I am not her."

"This shows the pattern of war crimes that happened in the final days of the war," Macrae told Reuters.

"They are not mistreating her and they are attempting to cover her partial nakedness with a cloth, but this footage demonstrates that she was alive and uninjured."

While the army disputes the footage, its release, on November 7 in New Delhi, will raise more questions about its actions before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), on November 15-17.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has declined to attend because of concerns over alleged abuses, while British Prime Minister David Cameron, rejecting calls to boycott the summit, had said he would raise difficult issues at the talks.

"They have been releasing fake videos targeting Geneva human rights commission meetings and now they have come out with another fake video targeting CHOGM to discredit the army and Sri Lanka in general," the military spokesman said.

Tens of thousands of civilians were killed in 2009 in the final months the war, a U.N. panel has said, as government troops advanced on the ever-shrinking northern tip of the island controlled by Tamil rebels fighting for an independent homeland.

The panel said it had "credible allegations" that Sri Lankan troops and the Tamil Tigers both carried out atrocities but said the government was responsible for most of the deaths.

The U.N. Human Rights Commission, through two resolutions, has urged Sri Lanka to investigate into the alleged war crimes, which President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government has rejected.

Political violence has eased since Sri Lanka's army crushed the Tamil rebellion, but international human rights groups say rule of law problems persist, including abductions and attacks on media and government critics. (Writing by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Alison Williams)

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