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Call for Sri Lanka war crimes probe

The Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tiger rebels both carried out possible war crimes in the final months before their long war ended, a UN report says.

A UN panel, which gathered evidence for 10 months, said tens of thousands died in just the last five months of the war that ended in May 2009.

"Most civilian casualties in the final phases of the war were caused by government shelling," it said.

It called on UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to immediately establish "an independent international mechanism" to investigate.

But Mr Ban said he would only launch an international inquiry into allegations of possible war crimes if the Sri Lankan government agreed, which is highly unlikely, or member states call for a probe.

The UN said he has been advised that he needs government consent or a decision from member states in an international forum.

The secretary-general had sent the report to the Sri Lankan government on April 12 so that he could include its response when it was officially released.

Instead, the report was leaked to The Island newspaper in Sri Lanka on April 17, and the government issued a statement calling it "fundamentally flawed and patently biased" and "presented without any verification."

Mr Ban's spokesman said that the Sri Lankan government has not replied to his offer to respond to the report "which nonetheless still stands."

The panel called on the Sri Lankan government to immediately begin "genuine investigations" into alleged violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed by both sides.


From Belfast Telegraph