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'Highest military rank' for accused Sri Lankan war criminal

A Sri Lankan navy admiral who has been investigated as a suspect over the disappearance of 11 Tamil youths has been promoted to the highest rank in the military in an elaborate ceremony last week.

Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda served as the Commander of the Sri Lankan navy from 2005 to 2009, when a massive military offensive was launched killing tens of thousands of Tamil civilians.

In addition, Karannagoda has been named as a suspect over the abduction of 11 Tamil youths in 2008 - 2009, and has been questions by Sri Lanka’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

In 2015, TNA parliamentarian M A Sumanthiran said that Karannagoda had also acknowledged the existence of underground detention cells in the Trincomalee naval dockyard.

Sri Lanka’s president Maithripala Sirisena however, honoured Karannagoda by promoting him to Admiral of the Fleet.

The former commander of Sri Lanka’s air force Roshan Goonathileke was also conferred the highest honorary military rank by Sirisena. “Under his leadership, the Air Force was able to make a significant difference in the final stages of the humanitarian operation that brought to an end the conflict that had already taken a significant toll from the nation,” said Sirisena’s official website.

Also present at the ceremony was Sri Lanka’s Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne, a key witness also accused of involvement in the disappearance of the Tamil youths.

The latest move comes after the Sri Lankan government has repeatedly reiterated its refusal to prosecute those accused of mass atrocities and human rights abuses.

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