Ex-Sri Lankan army chief urges country to cooperate in international probe of war crimes

Last Updated: Wed, May 23, 2012 09:50 hrs

Ex-Sri Lankan army chief Sarath Fonseka has said that the country must cooperate with any international investigation into alleged war crimes.

In an interview with the BBC after his release from jail, Fonseka said that the attitude of some Sri Lankan leaders gave the world the impression that they were guilty of something during the war.

He said that he was "ready to answer for any allegations about the war crimes in relation to the military operations".

"I've said from the very beginning, to safeguard the name of the military, those who sacrificed their lives, those who conducted that operation - I'll come out at any time, I'm not scared to come before anybody," BBC quoted Fonseka as saying.

Fonseka, however, denied that thousands of civilians had been killed during the war.

"The large figures of 30,000, 40,000, [who are said to have] died - it was not practicable. The way we conducted the war, the type of weapons systems we used, the manuals we made, we were always concerned about the security of the civilians," Fonseka said.

There have been repeated calls for an international probe into the war.

Sri Lanka's army had put an end to 26 years of civil war after they defeated the separatist Tamil Tigers in May 2009.

Nevertheless, the final phase of that war has been a source of considerable controversy, with both sides accused of war crimes.

In March, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution urging Sri Lanka to do more to address alleged abuses during the final phase of war with Tamil rebels. (ANI)

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