Shielding suspects, killing hopes of justice

In March 2015, barely two months into his presidency, Maithripala Sirisena pledged a fresh probe into war-time crimes. While firmly ruling out the UN’s direct participation, he said that the views of international experts would be considered, and that domestic investigators would work “efficiently and impartially”. His promise came as a welcome departure from the loud denials of the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration. Today, the credibility of the investigations is under serious question. It all began with news of Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne’s surprise departure to Mexico earlier this month. Dodging the Criminal Investigations Department, which had summoned him to make a statement, he departed to attend the 208th Independence Commemoration of Mexico, officially representing the government. The CID had summoned Admiral Wijegunaratne after a magistrate court ordered his arrest in late August for allegedly helping a naval officer, who is accused of kidnapping 11 men between 2008 and 2009, flee the country. All 11 are believed to have been murdered later. The Navy officer, Chandana Prasad Hettiarachchi, is also a prime suspect in the assassination of Tamil legislator Nadaraja Raviraj.

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