A Sri Lankan military court of inquiry has given a clean chit to the army and ruled that civilian casualties in the last stage of the military operations "might have occurred due to unlawful acts of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam ".
The report was equally critical of the international community's failure in their duty to stop the LTTE war crimes. The inquiry report was presented to the top defence official Gotabhaya Rajapaksa on Wednesday. The same report was handed over to the chief of the army Jagath Jayasuriya in February.
The report focussed on the allegations of civilian casualties raised in a British television channel documentary. Channel 4 had said that Sri Lanka army's use of heavy weaponry had caused a large number of civilian casualties. Sri Lanka's own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission in its report had recommended that allegations of civilian casualties need to be investigated. The army court of inquiry was in response to the commission's findings.
"From the testimony presented, the commission of inquiry concluded that the instances of shellings referred to in the LLRC report were not caused by the Sri Lanka army and civilian casualties might have occurred due to unlawful acts by the LTTE," the report said.
The report has further contended that civilian casualties are inevitable due to the vagaries of the war but if the fresh evidence is presented giving precise information, the Sri Lanka army was willing to institute investigations.
Sri Lanka has been under constant international pressure to investigate the large number of civilian killings in the last stages of the conflict. The island has been the subject of two United Nations Human Rights Council resolutions both of which have called for credible investigations in to the violation of the international humanitarian law. The report adds that the army would next move to investigate the Channel 4 allegations of summary execution of LTTE cadres captured by it.