Former Sri Lanka Army commander Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka claimed that there may be “seven or eight” individuals in the armed forces who are responsible for war crimes, as he lashed out against Sri Lanka's former president for a loss of "discipline" in the army.
Mr Fonseka, who is now Sri Lanka’s Regional Development Minister, said that in Sri Lanka 200,000-strong army “there might have been seven or eight” individuals responsible for human rights abuses that blighted the final stage of the island’s armed conflict and called for them to be punished.
“If not, I don't think it is reality,” he told reporters after a meeting with Buddhist monks, adding that “any government institution would have one or two thugs, rapists and other miscreant”.
He went on to compare Sri Lanka’s armed forces to that of other countries, stating that perpetrators of war crimes could be found in other armies across the world.
“But they should not be shielded from punishment if they are guilty of any crime regardless of their status,” continued Mr Fonseka, who became Sri Lanka’s first and only five-star general under the current government. He has previously denied all reports that troops under his command committed war crimes and reiterated his commitment to defending the army.
Allegations of war crimes were only levelled against the Sri Lankan military after former president Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brother defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa “introduced politics into the Army” claimed Mr Fonseka.
Blaming the Rajapaksa brothers for a loss of “discipline” amongst the army, Mr Fonseka lashed out at the pair, stating,
"There was no threat of electric chair against the former President, but he instilled fear among the people by always talking about such a threat. It was we who commanded and fought the war, it was we who would have been sent to the electric chair, if actually there were such a threat.”
“If the former President was taken to the electric chair, that would be a disgrace even to that chair," he concluded.