Jayalalitha wants Sri Lankan 'war criminals' tried (Roundup)

Last Updated: Wed, Feb 20, 2013 12:49 hrs

Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa Wednesday called for the trial of Sri Lankan "war criminals" following fresh evidence that the 12-year-old son of slain Tamil Tigers supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran was killed in cold blood after being captured.

The chief minister told the media that photographs showed an innocent looking Balachandran Prabhakaran seated in a military bunker before he was shot in May 2009. She said his killing was "an inhuman act of extreme cruelty".

Calling it a "war crime", she compared the conduct of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa's regime with the Nazis and the way Hitler dealt with Jews.

"He (Balachandran) was only 12 years. He was only a child. He did not commit any crime. As he was the son of Prabhakaran, the Sri Lankan army killed him," she said.

Jayalalithaa spoke a day after a section of the media carried two photographs of Balachandran dressed only in shorts seated in a bunker just before he was killed allegedly at close range.

In one photograph he is seen looking inquisitively at someone and in the other munching what could be a chocolate or biscuit.

These snaps, being made public for the first time, were apparently taken from the same camera that also photographed the boy later lying dead, with five bullet wounds. The latter picture became public knowledge earlier.

The pictures are part of a film, "No Fire Zone", which seeks to document the rights abuses during the final phase of the Sri Lankan war when the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was crushed.

Sri Lanka has constantly denied that it killed Prabhakaran's son or for that matter anyone in cold blood, and maintained that the boy died only in crossfire.

"The killing of Balachandran is a war crime" and "unforgivable", the chief minister said, and pressed India to work with the US to pass a resolution in the UN denouncing rights violations in Sri Lanka.

"I call upon the Indian government to hold discussions with the US and other like-minded nations and prepare a resolution to be passed by the UN (against Sri Lanka)," she said.

She added that in line with a resolution passed by the Tamil Nadu assembly, India should impose an economic embargo on Sri Lanka "with the cooperation of other countries".

The embargo should remain in place "until the Tamils who have been displaced there and confined in camps (after the conflict) are allowed to return to their homes and live with equal rights on par with" members of the majority Sinhalese community and "live a life of dignity".

DMK chief M. Karunanidhi also urged India to take a stand against Sri Lanka ahead of the March meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva where the US is expected to come with a resolution against Colombo.

India last year voted for a similar US resolution but after moderating it, much to the chagrin of anti-Sri Lanka voices.

Karunanidhi called the killing of Balachandra "gruesome" and asked the international community to raise its voice against the Sri Lankan regime.

"While Western nations are supporting the US resolution, it is painful that India has not explained its stand," he said.

Other political parties in Tamil Nadu have also come out vocally against Sri Lanka ever since the pictures of the young Balachandran were published and went virtal on YouTube.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka's envoy to India said that the photographs showing the late LTTE chief's son alive before being killed were morphed.

"Prabhakaran's son could have been killed in crossfire while he was in a little bunker. There is no need for an international probe. The photos are morphed," Prasad Kariyawasam told CNN-IBN.

Kariyawasam urged Indian Tamil leaders to visit Sri Lanka "to see progress. Sentiment in Tamil Nadu is worrying. We cannot tell India how to vote in Geneva. It is a responsible regional power".

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