Sri Lanka seeks fresh trial over student massacre

Medical records show that students were shot dead

Afp July 12, 2019
Representational Image. PHOTO: REUTERS

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's state prosecutor is to seek a fresh trial over the notorious murder of five students during the country's Tamil separatist war after a magistrate dismissed a case against security forces, a spokeswoman said on Friday.

Attorney-General Dappula de Livera ordered police to trace three key witnesses to the 2006 killings that drew international condemnation, his spokesperson Nishara Jayaratne said.

The move came after a magistrate this month discharged 13 security personnel, including 12 Special Task Force (STF) commandos, accused of gunning down the Tamil students in the eastern port of Trincomalee.

Medical records showed that the students were shot dead. But the STF said one of them was carrying a hand grenade which exploded and killed them.

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Despite international pressure for prosecutions, an inquiry dragged until all the suspects were freed on July 3. A Trincomalee magistrate said there was insufficient evidence to proceed.

The so-called "Trinco 5" case figured at United Nations Human Rights Council sessions with calls for Sri Lanka to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Seven months after the killings, security forces were again prime suspects in the deaths of 17 workers - including four women - from the French charity Action Against Hunger (ACF) but no one has been prosecuted.

That was the worst attack against humanitarian workers during the 37-year-long war that ended in 2009 that claimed more than 100,000 lives.

The UN has called on Sri Lanka to "defeat the demons of its past" and ensure justice for victims of the conflict.

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