Officials from the Sri Lankan government’s Office of Missing Persons (OMP) will join the chief investigator of the Mannar mass grave, where over 200 skeletons have been unearthed, in accompanying samples from the grave to a laboratory in Florida where they will be analysed.
“Preparations are under way for the bone samples collected for carbon dating to be flown to the Beta Analytic Radio Carbon Dating Lab in Florida, USA,” said Dr Saminda Rajapaksha, who has been heading the excavation.
“I would be in charge of the bones and the only person handling the bones. However, to ensure the transparency of the procedure officials from the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) and a few other officials may join me.”
The Sunday Observer reports that the bone samples are to be taken to Colombo from Mannar under Sri Lankan police protection and then transferred to Bandaranaike International Airport under Sri Lanka Air Force custody.
“The objective is to support JMO Dr. Rajapaksha to protect the chain of custody which continued through the excavation process,” said the OMP’s chairman Saliya Peiris “The OMP would continue to financially support the investigation, in the same way it had during the past few months. We would bear all the travel costs for delivering the bone samples to the lab.”
Excavations have been taking place in Mannar for months, with the site now unearthing the largest mass grave on the island.
In total, 280 sets of human remains have been recovered, including 274 full skeletons and twenty-one skeletons of children. As well as signs of torture, observers had been disturbed by the discovery of bones bound by metal.