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HRW calls for war crimes probe on former LTTE commander

The New York based Human Rights Watch says Vinyagamoorthy Muralitharan, who is better known as Colonel Karuna Amman, should have been criminally investigated long ago for war crimes.

Meenakshi Ganguly, the South Asia Director for Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that the Sri Lankan authorities have ordered an investigation into the former commander of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) after he publicly boasted about killing several thousand Sri Lankan soldiers during the country’s civil war, which ended in 2009.

He killed more soldiers, he reportedly said, than Sri Lankans had died from the coronavirus.

However, Ganguly noted that in truth Amman should have been criminally investigated long ago for war crimes. During the 26-year armed conflict, the LTTE was responsible for countless grave abuses, including unlawful killings and attacks on civilians. Forces under Karuna’s command were implicated in the summary execution of several hundred police officers in June 1990, after they had surrendered to the LTTE. The following month his forces executed about 75 Muslim travelers. And in August that year, his forces were allegedly responsible for killing more than 200 civilians in Batticaloa district.

Even after Karuna split from the LTTE to lead a pro-government armed group in 2004, his alleged crimes were never investigated. Instead his forces committed more abuses, apparently this time on the government’s behalf. The United Nations, Human Rights Watch, and others reported that Karuna’s group, known as the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP), was responsible for enforced disappearances, torture, and child recruitment.