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‘Don’t need outsiders in Lanka’s war crimes probe’

‘Don’t need outsiders in Lanka’s war crimes probe’
Sri Lanka does not want "any outsiders" in its domestic inquiry into alleged atrocities committed against the Tamil Tigers during the last stages of the country's civil war, President Maithripala Sirisena said.

“We are ready to get advice and their opinions for the inquiry, but I don't think we need any outsiders because we have all the sources for this,” Sirisena said.

This implies the UN investigators will not be able to participate in the domestic inquiry that the new government plans to set up within a month into the alleged war-crimes committed during the nearly three decade-long military operations that crushed the Tamil Tigers in 2009.

The investigative committee would work "efficiently, in a balanced, legal and impartial manner," Sirisena said in an interview to the BBC that was aired on Thursday.

The Tamil National Alliance, which rules the war-ravaged north, opposes the domestic investigation and demands for a full-fledged international probe.

The President said he would take the advice of the UN investigators into account, but they would not be involved directly in the probe, despite international pressure. Sirisena's comments came a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi's historic visit to the country, the first by an Indian premier in 28 years.

Modi will also be the first Indian Prime Minister to travel to Jaffna in the north, the former bastion of the LTTE.

He is also expected to press the new government for an early reconciliation with the minority Tamils. The National Security Council will, Sirisena said, examine details of people, mostly Tamils, who have been in detention without charge, some for years, and will report back, suggesting whether to charge them or release them.

He insisted there was now space for open dialogue and dissent on issues, including war crimes. The UN agreed last month to delay its long-awaited report into the alleged war crimes.

It has said the new government was more willing to cooperate than the previous one. "We expect to begin a new journey to promote reconciliation, cohabitation, brotherhood and friendship among the people of Sri Lanka, and to win over international opinion on these issues," he said.

Sirisena came to power in January, inflicting a surprise defeat on former ally Mahinda Rajapaksa, during whose rule the LTTE was defeated militarily.


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