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Sri Lanka's war crimes accused former ambassador rejects 'baseless allegations'

Sri Lanka's former military general, Jagath Jayasuriya on Friday rejected allegations of war crimes as "baseless" and denied that he had fled Brazil after law suits were filed against him.

Earlier this week human rights groups filed lawsuits in Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Chile over his role in the military in 2009 where he oversaw Sri Lankan units that bombed hospitals, as well as the execution and torture of surrendees and disappeared civilians. 

"All these allegations are those they bring up time to time changing the name of a person," Mr Jayasuriya told the Daily Mirror in an interview. "This time they have levelled the same set of charges against me. Earlier, Kamal Gunaratne and Shanvendra Silva were targeted. There is no authenticity or any basis for these charges which are being made for the survival of some elements."

Mr Jayasuriya was critical of the government for failing to quash the talk of war crimes. 

"I’m not satisfied with the action taken by the government so far. It should settle this issue before any other matter and settle this once and for all. It has been eight years since the end of the war but still baseless allegations, the same set of allegations, keep surfacing from time to time," he told the paper. 

Lashing back at the former army commander, Sarath Fonseka who this week said he was prepared to testify against Mr Jayasuriya, the latter said it was Mr Fonseka who had released him from military operations.  

“After all, General Fonseka was known to declare that it was he who did ‘everything’ to bring the war to an end. I have the official document sent by Army Commander Fonseka during the latter part of the war, saying I have no responsibility for military operations." 

Flatly denying that he had fled the country, Mr Jayasuriya claimed that he was "not aware of the lawsuit." 

"It was only upon my arrival in Sri Lanka that I got to know about the news when chargé d'affaires of our embassy contacted me in the morning of August 29. He said media personnel are contacting the embassy to get a comment on this matter. Also, no one has filed a lawsuit in a court as reported by the media."

"The lawyer who had prepared the document had simply handed it over to the Federal Police of Brazil. In the document, they have requested the police to launch an investigation against the Sri Lankan Ambassador, to deprive diplomatic immunity of the Ambassador and to declare him a 'persona non grata' in the event the Sri Lankan government refused to cooperate with a probe."

"The timing of the allegations is also questionable. Why wait till my tenure ended? They could have easily prepared this when I was still the Ambassador. I have questions as this could be an attempt to sling mud at me personally, to deprive me of a further appointment as an ambassador or based on some other hidden agenda."

Stating that he had previously had problems transitting via the United States, Mr Jayasuriya said he was concerned how he would travel in future. 

"Foreign travelling is something which would be affected by these allegations. Once, I had to move my transit point from Miami, US to Canada as I was not given clearance even for transit via the US when returning from Brazil. My wife was cleared for transit but not me. My daughter is in Australia and my son is in Hong Kong. The way some media reported the incident had affected them as well. I have to visit them from time to time. Embassies are reluctant to issue a visa even when there are mere allegations even without any basis. This is something I’m really concerned about."

See full interview here

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