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'SL Prez wants civil war disappearances probed'

Colombo: Gotabaya Rajapaksa wants a probe into the disappearances of over 20,000 people in the country's brutal civil war with Tamil Tiger rebels, his office has said in a clarification after the Sri Lankan President declared the missing persons "dead" in a first-ever admission to a UN official.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the former wartime defence secretary who played a key role in ending Sri Lanka's nearly 30-year civil war with the Tamil separatist rebels, told UN Resident Coordinator Hanaa Singer last week that after the necessary investigations are completed steps would be taken to issue death certificates to the missing persons.

The President's office has said Gotabaya Rajapaksa had explained to the UN official that he will have the matter investigated, but added, "however I can't bring back the dead". The President told the UN official that as a result of the census carried out by the government at the end of the conflict in 2009, it had emerged that most of the missing persons had been conscripted by the LTTE, the statement

said.

"Their families attest to being witnesses of their loved ones being taken by the LTTE. However, thereafter they do not have any information as to their fate. Therefore, as far as they are concerned these people are missing," the statement quoted the Sri Lankan president as

saying.

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