Brazil lawsuit accuses Jagath Jayasuriya of war crimes

Human rights groups in South America have filed war crimes lawsuits against a former Sri Lankan general who is now his country’s ambassador to Brazil, Aljazeera reported today.

The lawsuits against Jagath Jayasuriya allege he oversaw military units that attacked hospitals and killed, disappeared and tortured thousands of people in the final phase of Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2009.

Jayasuriya has diplomatic immunity in Brazil and five other countries where he is ambassador – Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Suriname.

But the groups pursuing the suits hope they will compel regional governments to open investigations of Jayasuriya, remove his immunity and expel him.

Carlos Castresana Fernandez, the lawyer coordinating the effort, told the Associated Press news agency that suits have been filed on Monday in Brazil and Colombia.

Petitions will be filed in Argentina, Chile and Peru in the coming days, he said, adding that authorities in Suriname had refused to accept the petition.

“This is one genocide that has been forgotten, but this will force democratic countries to do something,” Fernandez said. “This is just the beginning of the fight.”

Jayasuriya’s whereabouts were not immediately known.

Calls to the Sri Lankan embassy in Brazil’s capital went unanswered Monday evening as did an email seeking comment.

The criminal suits were spearheaded by the human rights group International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP), an evidence-gathering organisation based in South Africa.

The suits say Jayasuriya was commander of the Vanni Security Force from 2007 to 2009, one of the bloodiest periods in a 26-year war estimated to have killed more than 100,000 people.

The UN estimates between 40,000 and 70,000 died in the final phase alone, when Sri Lanka’s military defeated the separatist armed group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

According to the suits, Jayasuriya oversaw an offensive from Joseph Camp in the northern town of Vavuniya.

ITJP said it interviewed 14 people who survived torture or sexual violence at the camp.

“There is no way General Jagath Jayasuriya can claim not to have known that torture routinely occurred in his camp; there were purpose built underground torture chambers, equipped with manacles, chains and pulleys for hoisting victims upside down,” Yasmin Sooka, the ITJP’s executive director, said in March.

“If the detainees could hear each other screaming at night from adjacent buildings, so could he.”

Human rights groups have long been after Jayasuriya, but the Sri Lankan government has refused to try him or others allegedly involved in war abuses.

A few years after the war ended, he retired from the military. Jayasuriya was appointed ambassador to Brazil in 2015 and the other countries were added to his purview over the following two years.

The Sri Lankan army has denied committing war crimes.

Fernandez, the lawyer coordinating the lawsuits against Jayasuriya, has worked on international cases against war criminals in Guatemala, Argentina and Chile.

In the case of Chilean General Augusto Pinochet, he ended up being arrested and held for a time in England because of international lawsuits filed against him. (Colombo Gazette)


  1. How much LTTE terrorist money Sooka was paid to do this? Funny thing is that LTTE terrorist is backed by UN against a government army.

  2. This is one Singhalaya stabbing another Singhalaya in the front and back. Similar to what is happening in our political front where the Singhalaya has ruled since independence in 1948.
    Until this very day, they are stabbing each other as well as the minorities left right and center.
    The Singhalaya will never unite nor will the country develop. Minorities will continue to suffer due to racism being promoted at government level.
    In the theater of war there are no referees and casualties are bound to happen and whatever happened in the last stages of the war in April 2009 cannot be avoided and was supported by many western and other countries in the fight to eliminate terrorism. Political pressure has suddenly changed and all those countries who supported the government offensive are now pointing fingers with various accusations.
    What has happened had to happen sooner or later and now the rebuilding has to begin and all must participate in correcting the wrongs and lay a strong foundation for development and progress in all spheres that make up life.


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