The seventh day of excavation at the Kokkuthoduvai mass grave, carried out on September 13th, continued to yield crucial evidence in this ongoing investigation further deepening the complexity of the case.
The excavation of the site has thus far revealed remnants of weapons, dog tags, and uniforms worn by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cadres, along with a device designed to purify water, all of which have been collected as vital pieces of evidence.
In the most recent excavation, the team uncovered partial skeletal remains of three victims, a vial of cyanide, and two dog tags belonging to LTTE cadres. Since the commencement of the excavation, a total of nine victims' skeletal remains have been exhumed.
Speaking to the media at the conclusion of the day's excavation, Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) K. Vasudevan provided insights into the financial aspect of the operation. He revealed that they have been allocated a total of 5.7 million rupees for the excavation of the site, assuring the media that these funds are sufficient to sustain excavations for an additional two weeks, provided that the Mullaitivu Magistrate court grants the necessary permissions.
JMO Vasudevan emphasized that the allocated funds were also utilized for essential facilities, including temporary toilets, protective measures for the mass grave against the elements, and accommodations for the personnel involved in the operation. He reiterated the critical importance of meticulously collecting and documenting all objects discovered at the site to ensure the thoroughness of the investigation.
Regarding the duration of the excavation, JMO Vasudevan stated that it is impossible to determine its endpoint at this stage. The size of the site remains uncertain, as does the number of victims yet to be discovered in the mass grave. The current excavation, dedicated to the identified mass grave, is expected to require several more weeks to complete, given the challenges posed by the stacking of skeletal remains and other objects.
Notably, the team cannot speculate on the potential existence of additional mass graves in the area or the duration required for their excavation. The court has granted permission for the current team to excavate and produce a report solely on the discovered mass grave they are currently working on.
The excavation team faces complexities in their work, as seen in the recent excavation where three skeletal remains were found stacked on top of each other. Such challenges not only impact the identification of victims but also complicate the process of exhuming the remains.
All evidence collected from the mass grave, including the skeletal remains, will be securely held at the Mullaitivu General Hospital, which possesses the necessary facilities to store and preserve them for further investigation.