Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Govt. slams Ulf Henricsson's ruling on killing of aid workers in Muttur

The Government today vehemently denied, condemned and regretted the rulings made by the outgoing Head of the SLMM Ulf Henricsson, regarding the assassination of 17 civilian aid workers in Muttur on August 4, 2006. The Head is scheduled to leave the SLMM tomorrow due to an LTTE deadline.
Henricsson in his rulings said the Security Forces were responsible for the act, based upon his confidential conversations with "highly reliable sources" and the fact that Security Forces were present in Muttur at that time. He also accused the Security Forces of not allowing the SLMM to enter the area to make inquiries.

"There is a total lack of professionalism in the SLMM Head's rulings and the government vehemently denies, condemns and regrets his statements, as there should be a proper basis to any ruling", Defence Spokesman Minister Rambukwella told PRIU.

"Muttur was under the control of the LTTE from August 2 to the early hours of August 5, for 72 hours they were in control", explained the Minister.

"The Anuraddhapura JMO who conducted the autopsies, placed the time of death of the aid worker at August 3 night or early 4th morning. This confirms the fact that the deaths took place while Muttur was under the control of the LTTE," he said.

He further pointed out that the SLMM findings were not based on any factual evidence as the Head of the SLMM was not authorized with judiciary powers, required to conduct post mortems. He said these were mandatory requirements to conducting an investigation such as this.

"The SLMM Head has said the he was not allowed to visit the area of the incident. During that time the territory was under the control of terrorists, it was not advisable for him to travel there. When he (SLMM Head) went to Mawilaru without informing the authorities he complained of mortar attacks. As a responsible Government, we could not risk another situation such as that", stressed the Minister.

The Minister was also highly critical of the SLMM justifying one killing for another. In his ruling on the attack on the Kabitigollewa civilian bus, Henricsson ruled that the bombing was carried out by the LTTE as a "deliberate retaliation for the recent killings of civilians and LTTE cadres in LTTE controlled areas in the North and the East."

EU member countries of the SLMM, Denmark, Finland and Sweden, are to leave Sri Lanka tomorrow, due to the LTTE withdrawing security guarantees to its monitors, following the EU banning of the LTTE earlier this year. Despite attempts by Norwegian diplomats the LTTE has not shifted its stance or its deadline regarding the removal of the monitors. The mission is to lose more than half of its 57 members.