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British police arrest second man in UK over Sri Lankan war crimes

The UK Metropolitan Police confirmed they have arrested a man in connection to war crimes committed in Sri Lanka, the second such arrest to have taken place in the United Kingdom.

The 60-year-old suspect was arrested on 21 November 2023, under suspicion of an offence under Section 51 of the International Criminal Court Act, 2001. The arrest specifically relates to the killing of two individuals during a political rally in Jaffna in late 2001.

It is suspected that the attack referred to by the police is the one in November 2001 in Kayts, Jaffna. The attack was reportedly committed by the government-aligned paramilitary group the Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP) against members of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) whilst they were campaigning. Two TNA activists were killed during the attack and several others were injured.

This arrest is the second of its kind, with Metropolitan Police arresting another individual, under the same offence, in connection with the murder of journalist Mylvaganam Nimalarajan who was killed in 2000. That arrest took place in 2022 and that person was released under investigation, with enquiries still ongoing. The EPDP is also suspected of carrying out the killing.

Read more here: British war crimes police arrest man over murder of Tamil journalist in Jaffna

Following this second arrest, the UK police have issued a statement calling on individuals who can provide first-hand information of war crimes committed in the early 2000s in Sri Lanka to speak with them. 

“We know that these crimes have a lasting and significant impact on victims and witnesses and we’ve now made two arrests as part of this investigation," said Commander Dominic Murphy. "This is a sign of the progress made by officers looking into these extremely serious crimes."

“As in all serious cases, we need as much eye-witness testimony as possible to continue to build the case. We know that there are people with information about these incidents during the civil war in Sri Lanka who have not yet come forward. We urge those people to contact police – we will support you, and your information will be treated in the strictest confidence.”

These arrests follow increasing calls on members of the international community to conduct arrests of those accused of human rights violations in Sri Lanka under the principle of universal jurisdiction.

Both incidents were part of a referral made in 2017 to the Counter Terrorism Policing War Crimes team, which is hosted by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command and the investigation remains ongoing.

Read more here.

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