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London police investigates war crimes allegedly committed by British mercenaries in Sri Lanka

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Police in London have opened an investigation into war crimes allegedly committed by British mercenaries in Sri Lanka during the 1980s, Daily Maverick has reported.

The probe follows publication earlier this year of a book about UK military veterans from a company called Keenie Meenie Services (KMS). It exposed how KMS members were involved in war crimes against Tamil civilians at the start of Sri Lanka’s civil war in the mid-1980s – and escaped accountability.

 “KMS, whose chairman was a former aide-de-camp to Queen Elizabeth II, became involved in the conflict after a special adviser to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher suggested that UK support for Sri Lanka’s security forces “might be privatised”.

“The company trained a new Sri Lankan police unit, called the Special Task Force (STF).

“KMS also hired British pilots who flew helicopter gunships on combat missions, including an alleged raid on the village of Piramanthanaru, northern Sri Lanka, in which 16 people died in 1985.

“A London-based civil society organisation, the Tamil Information Centre, raised the findings with the United Nations Working Group on Mercenaries, which monitors private military companies.

“The UN body subsequently submitted concerns about KMS to Britain’s Foreign Office, asking what criminal measures the UK government had taken to “combat impunity”. Five UN rapporteurs, including experts on torture and disappearances, supported the submission.

“British diplomats in Geneva responded last week, telling the UN that the Metropolitan Police has “received a referral concerning war crimes alleged to have been committed by British mercenaries in Sri Lanka during the 1980s”.

“They added: “Following receipt of the referral, the War Crimes Team began a scoping exercise into the matter, in accordance with the Crown Prosecution Service’s published guidelines for referrals of war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

“When contacted for comment, the Metropolitan Police declined to comment further but confirmed that the scoping exercise was ongoing.”

 

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Special COVID-19 probe crippled by infections among CCD sleuths: AG calls for new police team

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

Brandix Apparel Limited yesterday (29) said that the company would fully cooperate with relevant authorities in the investigation ordered by the Attorney General (AG). A spokesperson for the company said so when The Island sought a clarification with regard to AG Dappula de Livera, PC, directing the police to launch a criminal investigation into the alleged lapses on the part of the company as well as those officials leading to the devastating COVID-19 outbreak.

The Minuwangoda eruption, which happened in the first week of October is widely believed to be the cause of the fast expanding Peliyagoda cluster.

Asked whether the police had contacted the Brandix management as regards the investigation and sought access to Brandix management and workers at its Minuwangoda apparel manufacturing facility as well as records at the Minuwangoda facility, the spokesperson said: “We will work with the relevant authorities in this regard”.

The Colombo Crime Division (CCD) tasked with the probe has suffered a serious setback due to a section of its officers being tested positive for COVID-19. Authoritative sources said that the CCD lacked sufficient strength to carry out the investigation.

AG de Livera early this week told DIG Ajith Rohana that a progress report should be submitted to him by or before Nov. 13.

Sources said that the badly depleted CCD was not in a position to conduct the high-profile investigation, in addition to other ongoing inquiries. The AG has directed the Acting IGP to constitute a special team of law enforcement officers to conduct the investigation. Sources acknowledged the urgent need for a thorough inquiry into the far worse second corona wave. Sources said that the AG issued fresh instructions in that regard after the crisis in the CCD was brought to his notice.

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Most garment workers under self-quarantine left to fend for themselves

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

A large number of garment workers who were undergoing self-quarantine in Minuwangoda did not receive any assistance, Chamila Thushari of the Dabindu Collective, a labour organisation that works with garment workers, told The Island yesterday.

She said that those who were under self-quarantine did not have money to purchase food and even those who were willing to help could not reach them.

“Some of them have received food parcels from their work places but that is not adequate. Most others have not received any assistance. Matters will only get worse after curfew is imposed throughout the Western Province,” Thushari said.

Most of these workers are undergoing self-quarantine at their boarding places, which also house individuals who still work in garment factories. “Although there is a curfew, they can go to work. These are perfect incubators for the virus,” she said.

Thushari said that every day between 20-30 workers under self-quarantine, tested positive for COVID-19.

There were no public health inspectors to monitor the boarding houses of garment workers to ensure that COVID-19 prevention measures were being followed, she said.

“Not even Grama Niladaris visit them,” Chamila said.

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SJB requests separate seats for its dissidents

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Chief Opposition Whip and Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella has written to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena requesting him to make arrangements to provide separate seats to the nine MPs who had voted with the government for the 20th Amendment to the Constitution recently.

The letter dated yesterday said that the SJB parliamentary group had decided to expel MPs Diana Gamage, A. Aravind Kumar, Ishak Rahuman, Faisal Cassim, H. M. M. Haris, M.S. Thowfeeq, Nazeer Ahmed, A.A.S.M. Raheem and S.M.M. Musharaf and it requests the Speaker to make separate seating arrangements for these MPs in the Chamber.

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