Sri Lanka asks for trust in internal war crimes probe | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 16.11.2013
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Sri Lanka asks for trust in internal war crimes probe

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said the international community should trust Sri Lanka as it investigates allegations of war crimes during the country's civil war. Britain had earlier suggested an international inquest.

The Sri Lankan president on Saturday appealed for more time as his country investigates war crimes allegations against its soldiers, dating to the end of Sri Lanka's ethnic and civil war in 2009.

"People in glass houses must not throw stones," Rajapaksa said in Colombo, where he is chairing a biennial Commonwealth summit.

British Prime Minister David Cameron had previously called for an international investigation into the allegations - to start next March - unless Sri Lanka posts its own reports. This followed what Cameron called "frank" personal talks with Rajapaksa.

"Not everything I said was accepted, but I sense they do want to make progress on these issues, and it will help frankly by having international pressure in order to make sure that that happens," Cameron told reporters. Rajapaksa's public message conflicted with this.

"Pressure won't do anything," Sri Lanka's president said. "It's much better to wait rather than demand or dictate."

Rajapaksa said his investigative team was "independent," saying a commission probing reports of missing persons had already begun their work.

"So we have done what we can," Rajapaksa said. "It's just four years after the war."

A UN report has suggested that Sri Lanka's largely Sinhalese army forces may have killed up to 40,000 minority Tamils as they were routed towards the end of a civil war lasting almost three decades. Rajapaksa stated before the summit that civilians were not among the dead as the military made its final push to end the conflict, saying his government had "nothing to hide."

The Tamil forces, fighting for independence from Sri Lanka, have in turn been accused of killing civilians, using them as human shields, and forcibly recruiting child soldiers.

British Prime Minister Cameron had skipped the first day of the Commonwealth summit in order to visit the war-torn, northern Jaffna region on Friday. Cameron also pledged financial aid towards removing land mines in the north.

msh/ph (AFP, AP)