In an analysis on US national security law and policy, New York University School of Law Professor Ryan Goodman has highlighted various laws that can assist the US Justice Department and other agencies in prosecuting US citizen and Sri Lankan Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa on his alleged involvement in mass war crimes.
Goodman in an article on Just Security – an online forum on law, rights and US National Security has listed out the various legal avenues available to the administration of the case against Gotabaya.
1) Criminal liability – war crimes act of 1996
2) In the case of inadequate evidence for criminal indictment the Justice Department can pursue the Civil RICO – a vehicle for addressing organized criminal activity including international crimes – for civil/criminal liability
Justice Department and other agencies
1) IRS: Tax evasion
Through an investigation of the assets compared to any tax documents Gotabhaya might or might not have filled with the IRS as a US citizen residing abroad.
2) Human rights violations and war crimes unit: Immigration fraud
Considering the past successes in the similar case, Goodman has pointed out that Gotabaya can be prosecuted for failure to disclose material/information on his involvement in the past crimes in his application for US citizenship
Goodman has written further that evidence for any action under these provisions can be sought from the Matale Mass Grave and his involvement in it as the Coordinating Officer of the Matale district and the Commanding Officer of the 1st battalion Gajaba regiment in the late 80s.
Writing furthermore on how Gotabaya during several occasions during the past few years has publicly attempted to cover up his crimes, Goodman has noted – “US government has poured its credibility into promoting accountability in Sri Lanka and now cannot afford to stand by when its own citizen is directly interfering with prospects for independent war crimes investigations.”