Presidential commission on Matale grave

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has decided to appoint a special commission to investigate the mass grave at Matale.

Presidential spokesman Mohan Samaranayake told the Colombo Gazette this morning that the investigations by the commission will be in addition to the investigations being carried out by the police.

Over 150 skeletal remains and human bones have been unearthed from the mass grave in Matale.

Forensics had determined that the remains were of those killed sometime in the late 1980’s and the area has now been marked as a crime scene.

At least 10 skeletal remains were first found from the site near the Matale hospital in November last year by construction workers when land near the hospital was being dug-up to construct a new building.

Following police investigations excavation work began to look for skeletal remains at the site and more remains were found.

The JVP had demanded that the government carry out investigations on the mass grave following fears the remains maybe that of JVP members or supporters killed during a 1987-89 insurgency.

The UNP, which was in power during the 1987-89 period, said it will back an independent investigation into the mass grave.

The UN had also been called to assist in the investigations into the mass grave.

In a written statement submitted to the UN Human Rights Council, ahead of the 22nd session last March, the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a nongovernmental organization, had said that the UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances should, through their experts, study the situation and the conduct of inquiries relating to the remains of the 200 or more persons found in Matale and assist the Sri Lankan government to ensure that these inquiries meet international standards.

The ALRC also suggested that the international community assists the Sri Lankan government with expertise, equipment and the necessary financial resources for the proper conduct of investigations as well as the preservation of these remains under ideal conditions, which are required for such purposes. (Colombo Gazette)

Report by Easwaran Rutnam