News / Asia

Sri Lanka's Ex-Army Head Ready to Face Allegations of War Crimes

Sri Lanka's former army chief Sarath Fonseka gestures while speaking during a media briefing in Colombo, Sri Lanka, June 14, 2012.Sri Lanka's former army chief Sarath Fonseka gestures while speaking during a media briefing in Colombo, Sri Lanka, June 14, 2012.
x
Sri Lanka's former army chief Sarath Fonseka gestures while speaking during a media briefing in Colombo, Sri Lanka, June 14, 2012.
Sri Lanka's former army chief Sarath Fonseka gestures while speaking during a media briefing in Colombo, Sri Lanka, June 14, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— Sri Lanka's former army chief, who led the military to victory at the end of a three-decade conflict against Tamil Tiger rebels, has said he is ready to face questions about allegations of war crimes.

Sri Lanka is under Western and U.N. pressure to conduct an independent investigation into conduct during the war where, rights groups say, the former army chief and others are implicated in shooting fighters as they sought to surrender.

Sarath Fonseka told reporters he was ready to answer questions on his record in a war in whose final months, in 2009, tens of thousands of civilians were killed, according to a U.N. panel.

"If somebody is shy and tries to hide from facing questions, then obviously, people will start suspecting more and more," Fonseka told a Foreign Correspondents' Association forum late on Tuesday.

"In my case I have no problem like that and I am ready to answer anybody and clarify any doubt. If anybody questions me, I am ready to answer," he said.

Fonseka said the military under his command fought the war professionally according to international law and he was confident they had not violated human rights. If there was "specific evidence" which merited an inquiry, he said: "If anybody questions me I will answer. I'm ready to answer."

The U.N. Human Rights Council has called on Sri Lanka to investigate human rights violations during and after the war. The government says it has been implementing the recommendations via a local commission as requested by the United Nations.

Since the war ended, Fonseka has fallen out with the government and served jail time for crimes including corruption and engaging in politics while in uniform.

Fonseka ran for president in 2010 but lost to Mahinda Rajapaksa who has ruled the island state since 2005. Rights groups also say Rajapaksa has not addressed the war crimes allegations, something he denies.

Still popular among many Sri Lankans, Fonseka is seen as a potential political threat to Rajapaksa, despite the fact that his jail record means he cannot run for election for the next seven years.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid