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War crimes accused Gotabaya Rajapaksa named defence secretary, spokesperson refutes claims - reports

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka’s former defence secretary accused of leading a military offensive that massacred tens of thousands of Tamils has been reinstated to the government’s highest defence office, according to reports emerging from Colombo.

The Sunday Times reported the appointment came after he liaised with senior police officers about security arrangements for his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was unexpectedly appointed as prime minister on Friday.

Gotabhaya was Sri Lanka’s defence secretary during the final phase of the armed conflict where Sri Lankan troops systematically shelled hospitals, no fire zones and committed widespread sexual violence. In the past he has defended the military’s bombing of hospitals, and even stands accused of giving direct orders to execute surrendering Tamils.

Responding to reports Gotabhaya's spokesperson Milinda Rajapaksha said on Twitter, 

"The rumours that Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa has been appointed as the Defence Secretary are simply not true. @GotabayaR will not accept any administrative roles in the Government, but will continue to support Mahinda Rajapaksa to establish a stable government."