Former US Ambassador at Large for War Crimes and Global Criminal Justice Stephen Rapp recalled during a webinar on Friday (12) that then Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa had admitted to killing LTTE leaders after they surrendered to the military in 2009 instead of putting them on trial.
Speaking at an online panel discussion on Justice and rule of law Rapp said he remembered a conversation with the former Defence Secretary and now President Gotabaya Rajapaksa regarding LTTE leaders who surrendered to the army. Rapp said the government “hated the LTTE”.
“I remember raising this issue with defence secretary Gotabaya, now President Rajapaksa when I was there,” Rapp said at the webinar.
“I remember the defence secretary saying, “Oh, trials, trials, you know they go on so long and people get off”. And then he said, “I killed them, I killed them, I killed them”, Rapp recalled.
The former US Ambassador was responding to a question about why the LTTE was being held accountable by the UN and international community for atrocities committed during the war with the same vigor as the Sri Lankan military. Rapp noted that one way to have made the Tigers accountable for violations would have been to arrest leaders of the separatist movement and put them on trial. Rapp added: “Of course, recalling, that many of the individuals (in the LTTE) that could have been charged were in fact, according to credible evidence, killed after surrender. The numbers are around 360 that were given out”.
The Webinar was organised by the Global Tamil Forum, the Canadian Tamil Congress, Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice and the Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice at the New York University. The panel was moderated by Sri Lanka Campaign’s Melissa Dring and also featured former UN Assistant Secretary General Charles Petrie, former UN Special Rapporteur on Transitional Justice Pablo de Greiff, TNA MP M.A. Sumanthiran, former commissioner for the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka Ambika Sathkunanathan, activist Shreen Saroor and Muslim Congress International Affairs Director Ameer Faaiz.