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Sri Lankan president vows to protect war crimes accused commander

Sri Lanka’s president has pledged to protect former military commander Jagath Jayasuriya, who had to flee from his post as ambassador to Brazil this week after a lawsuit was filed accusing him of war crimes.

Colombo Gazette reported Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirsena as stating he would protect the Mr Jayasuriya, as well as troops that were under his command.

Adaderana quoted Mr Sirisena as stating,

“I want to make it clear that I will not allow anyone in the world to lay a hand on General Jagath Jayasuriya or any other military commander of the country or any war hero of the country.”

The Sri Lankan president continued to say that he would not “dance to the tune” of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and accused them of being funded by the LTTE.

ColomboPage reported that Mr Sirisena said,

"By the way, I'm not ready to dance to the tunes of NGOs. I work with the non-governmental organizations that love this country".

He went on to state that legal action over war crimes would not be initiated against the former army commander, saying “Jagath Jaysuriya’s issue is a problem on the other side of the sea. It is not a problem in this country”.

The Sri Lankan President was speaking at a convention to mark the 66th anniversary of the Sri Lankan Freedom Party.

His comments come after a cabinet minister and the former Sri Lankan called on the current government to ensure that it will protect the former commander. Mr Jayasuriya stands accused of overseeing Sri Lankan units that bombed hospitals, as well as the execution and torture of surrendees and disappeared civilians amongst a litany of human rights abuses against Tamil civilians and militants during the final phase of the island's armed conflict in May 2009.

Sri Lanka's former army commander Sarath Fonseka controversially said he was ready to testify against Mr Jayasuriya in the case of legal action, sparking a backlash from the leader of the National Freedom Front (NFF).