Sri Lanka probes public display of naked rebel bodies

Sri Lanka has ordered a high-level probe into a public display of the naked bodies of Tamil Tiger rebels who devastated a key air force base earlier this week, officials said on Friday.

Two tractors pulled trailers loaded with the stripped corpses and mutilated body parts from the base to Anuradhapura Hospital, 210km north of Colombo, and stopped on the way for residents to photograph the gory sight.

”The president has ordered a full-scale inquiry while the DIG [deputy inspector general of police] is conducting an investigation,” defence spokesperson Keheliya Rambukwella told reporters.

”We don’t want to humiliate dead people,” said Rambukwella.

Military spokesperson Udaya Nanayakkara, however, insisted the bodies were only stripped of their suicide bomb jackets and other armaments to prevent people handling them from getting injured.

”They were wearing camouflaged clothes, suicide jackets, which had to be removed for safety of others who were handling them, like those transporting, the hospital staff, who would have been in danger,” Nanayakkara said.

He said the military then wrapped the bodies in black plastic sheets before handing them over to the hospital mortuary.

The Tiger rebels expressed outrage at the display of the naked bodies.

Bodies of combatants on both sides are usually returned through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

But the local magistrate ordered the state to bury them because they were in a decomposed state, Rambukwella said.

The ICRC said it did not transfer the bodies as it did not get a prior request from both parties.

”Both the government and the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] need to directly contact the ICRC and ask for its involvement for us to be able to carry out a transfer of human remains,” said Peter Krakolinig, the ICRC’s deputy head in Colombo.

”In this case, that did not happen,” he said. — AFP



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