Court orders arrest of military chief | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 03, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, November 03, 2018

LANKA CIVIL WAR

Court orders arrest of military chief

A Sri Lankan court yesterday ordered the arrest the country's top military officer over the abduction and murder of 11 people during the Tamil civil war.

Colombo Fort magistrate Ranga Dissanayake reprimanded police investigators for failing to act on a previous order to detain Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne.

"The court ordered that the admiral be arrested before November 9," a court official told AFP. "If they fail, there should be action against the police officer handling the case."

The magistrate wants police to arrest Wijegunaratne, the chief of the defence staff, for allegedly shielding a navy officer responsible for abductions and killings.

Police told the court the admiral had protected Chandana Prasad Hettiarachchi, a navy intelligence officer who is the main suspect in the killing of 11 men between 2008 and 2009.

They are believed to have been murdered while being illegally held by the navy. Their bodies were never found but Hettiarachchi was arrested in August.

There have been persistent allegations that senior military personnel and figures loyal to the then president Mahindra Rajapakse were responsible for a number of high-profile murders.

Several military intelligence officers face prosecution over the assassination of a newspaper editor and for orchestrating attacks on other journalists and dissidents during Rajapakse's presidency.

Troops crushed Tamil separatists in 2009 ending the decades-long civil war.

The final days of the government offensive, spearheaded by Rajapakse, were marked by major rights violations, according to rights groups. A UN panel has said 40,000 civilians may have been killed in the final stages of the war.

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