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Sri Lanka delays excavation of Mullaitivu mass grave by refusing to allocate funds

File photograph

The Mullaitivu Judicial Medical Officer told the court today that the excavation of Kokkuthoduvai mass grave is being halted due to a lack of funding from the Sri Lankan government. 

Due to the lack of funds and progress, the case was adjourned for the day while the next hearing has been set for April 4th.  During the last hearing, the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO) Dr. Dr Kanagasbapathy Vasudeva confirmed that the bodies of 40 individuals whose remains were excavated from the Kokkuthoduvai mass grave were buried "in a hurry" without any religious rites, sometime between 1994 and 1996.

“The remains recovered date back to a period between 1994 and 1996,” he said. “We believe these bodies have been buried hurriedly and no religious rites were conducted. However, we are awaiting funds from the government to carry out further investigations. We hope to receive this soon; by the first of March, we will have more updates in time for the next court date.”

Dr Vasudeva said that the lack of funding has resulted in a delay in investigations and they have informed the government in writing to release the necessary funding. He added that forensic archaeologist Professor Raj Somadeva undertook the research. 

In September last year, excavations 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.

This mass grave is the 33rd such discovery on the island and the 14th in the North-East.

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