Oz approves appointment of Lankan admiral as High Commissioner

Adm Thisara Samarasinghe`s approval will upset Tamil community Down Under.

Updated: May 09, 2011, 15:24 PM IST

Melbourne: Australia has finally given its nod to the appointment of a controversial former naval commander as Sri Lanka`s High Commissioner in Canberra.

Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe will be Sri Lankan`s new high commissioner to Australia, a move that will upset Tamil community Down Under, according to `The Age` newspaper.

The Tamil community was lobbying with the Australian government to reject it in response to Sri Lanka`s refusal to allow an international war crimes tribunal.

Australian Tamil Congress spokeswoman Sam Pari said the community felt betrayed and disappointed as the appointment would give an accused war criminal diplomatic immunity.

Admiral Samarasinghe became Sri Lanka`s Navy commander after the 26-year war against the Tamil Tigers ended in 2009. While no allegations of war crimes were made against him, the United Nations released a report on April 25 recommending investigations into alleged war crimes.

Federal MP John Murphy, who opposed Samarasinghe`s appointment, told Parliament in February that the former naval commander was an "entirely inappropriate person" to be Sri Lanka`s high commissioner to Australia.

Murphy said he was representing the Sri Lankan community and the admiral`s involvement with the war was concerning as he was director-general of naval operations when innocent civilians were targeted.

The war is believed to have cost up to 100,000 lives.