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Sri Lankan Army war criminal apprehended in Florida

A Sri Lankan Army sergeant involved in the torture and murder of civilians, as well as the construction of mass graves, has been apprehended by US authorities after being named by the Canada's Border Services as a suspected war criminal.

Illandaridevage Kulatunga was named in a list of 30 suspected war criminals that were thought to have entered Canada illegally.

The National Post said in a 2004 article that Kulatunga was directly involved in the arrest, torture and murder of innocent civilians as part of the Sri Lankan Army in the 1990s.

It was also noted that Kulatunga and his fellow soldiers then dug mass graves in order to destroy evidence of their crimes.

He is now set to be deported back to Sri Lanka, a decision that has been criticised by human rights group Amnesty International, who have called for all those on the list to face prosecution rather than deportation.

  Amnesty spokesman John Tackaberry

“Serious human rights violators should be brought to justice, we should ensure they face the consequences of their actions. These are very serious charges."

"You can’t get worse than war crimes or crimes against humanity.”

Having arrived in Canada in 1994 for the Commonwealth Games as part of the Sri Lankan boxing squad, Kulatunga disappeared having been knocked out in his very first match. He later re-emerged and applied for refugee status, but soon went astray again.

His name was then published in a list of 30 suspects who have “violated human or international rights under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act or under international law”.

Luc Portelance, President of the Canadian Border Services Agency, said that although they rarely name alleged war criminals, “the necessity of apprehension is acute.”

He went on to say,

"it is therefore extremely important that those who have lied to us, who have snuck into the country without declaring their complicity in such crimes be rounded up and kicked out of Canada."

"They do not belong in this country of peace and respect for human rights."

Public safety minister Vic Toews also commeneted on the issue saying,

"Our message is clear: those who are active or complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity can no longer hide in the shadows."

Kulatunga is currently in custody at the Broward Transitional Center in Florida for violating US immigration laws, where he is awaiting deportation to Sri Lanka.

The move to deport alleged war criminals rather than to prosecute them has provoked criticism from Amnesty International, who argued that

“[I]f they are just deported they may not face any further investigation or criminal charges.”

"Amnesty International strongly supports efforts to bring them to justice through criminal law rather than immigration enforcement measures. They should be extradited to face justice not deported."

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