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Accused war criminal appointed Sri Lankan army’s chief of staff

File photograph: Shavendra Silva receiving a promotion from Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena in 2018.

Shavendra Silva, a Sri Lankan army commander who headed a division accused of war crimes, has been appointed as the army’s Chief of Staff, according to several reports in the Colombo press on Wednesday.

Adaderana and the Daily Mirror stated that the army confirmed Silva was the 53rd chief of staff of the Sri Lankan army.

Last year, the commander, who headed the notorious 58th Division of the Sri Lankan Army during the final stages of the armed conflict were tens of thousands of Tamils were massacred, was promoted by the current government to the post of Adjutant General.

The 58 Division is accused of shelling Tamil hospitals and a United Nations hub in 2009, as well as executing surrendering Tamils and countless other violations of international law.

UN investigations into the final phases of the armed conflict against the LTTE found credible evidence that the 58 Division was involved in torture. The vast majority of Tamils that dissappeared at the end of the war after handing themselves over to Sri Lanka's armed forces were in immediate custody of the 58 Division.

In 2011, Jonathan Miller from Channel 4 News managed to interview Silva, outside the United Nations where the Sri Lankan government had posted him as a diplomat.

See their exchange below.