SL war general ready to fight US court summons



Colombo: A Sri Lankan general serving as a UN diplomat in New York is prepared to face a US court to deny charges his men committed war crimes during the island's civil war, reports said Tuesday.

A civil case has been filed in New York on behalf of two people whose relatives were killed in the final stages of the conflict, which ended in 2009 when the army launched a military onslaught against Tamil separatists.

A New York court served a summons last Friday at the New York residence of Major General Shavendra Silva, who is Sri Lanka's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations.

"Even with or without diplomatic privileges, I have the strength and courage and I will fight to safeguard Sri Lanka's interest," Silva told the Colombo-based Financial Times newspaper today.

He said President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was in New York last week to attend the annual UN General Assembly meetings, had directed officials to seek legal advice.

Silva was commanding officer of the 58th Division in the army which helped crush the Tamil Tiger rebels, who had waged a war for decades demanding a homeland for the Tamil ethnic minority.

"This law suit is a yet another sinister attempt by the bankrupt LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) to tarnish the hard-won victory. I will not let any person or organisation downgrade the defeat of terrorism in Sri Lanka, to which many contributed," Silva said.

The case was filed last week by the American University Washington College of Law, a centuries-old Washington college.

It is acting on behalf of Vathsala Devi and Seetharam Siva. Devi's husband and Siva's father were allegedly killed by Sri Lankan army shelling during the final weeks of the war.

PTI