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UN rights expert confirms authenticity of Sri Lanka war crimes video

UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Christof Heyns [official website] on Monday urged the UN Human Rights Council [official website] to conduct further investigations into possible Sri Lankan war crimes after reconfirming the legitimacy of a video of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) [JURIST news archive] members being executed by members of the Sri Lankan military. Heyns' conclusions are based on analysis by technical and forensic experts [AFP report], including pathologists, video analysts and a firearms expert, and echo findings [JURIST report] that led his predecessor last year to call for an independent investigation into Sri Lankan war crimes. Heyns, however, reviewed a longer version of the video than his predecessor. The Sri Lankan government has strongly denied the video's authenticity, calling it a fraud perpetrated by the LTTE.

A UN panel of experts said in a report released [JURIST report] last month that the parties on both sides may have committed war crimes during the final stages of the 26-year civil war between the Sri Lankan government and rebel LTTE forces. The Sri Lankan Ministry of External Affairs [official website] announced in December that the three-person panel would be allowed to visit [JURIST report] the island to investigate alleged war crimes. The decision represented a reversal after months of strong opposition [JURIST report] from the Sri Lankan government under President Mahinda Rajapaksa [official profile], who described the UN panel as an infringement on Sri Lanka's sovereignty. Rajapaksa instead appointed the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) to investigate the final years of the conflict from the ceasefire in 2002 to its conclusion in 2009. The LLRC's credibility, however, has been contested by several human rights organizations, which contend that the commission lacks objectivity [PTI report]. The government has repeatedly denied accusations that its forces violated international law during the conflict.

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