Sri Lanka to recall peacekeeping commander on UN request

Commander reported to have committed war crimes

In this photo provided by the United Nations, the United Nations Security Council meets on the situation in Mali, Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 at U.N. Headquarters. The U.N. has asked the government of Sri Lanka to immediately repatriate the commander of the country's 200-person contingent in the U.N. peacekeeping force in Mali following a review of his human rights background. (Manuel Elias/The United Nations via AP)

Sri Lanka's military said that it would recall its commander leading a UN peacekeeping contingent in Mali after the world body asked him to be repatriated over his human rights background.

Military spokesman Sumith Atapattu said on Saturday that it would comply with the UN request even though it does not believe Col Kalana Amunupure is guilty of any human rights abuses in the last stages of Sri Lanka's civil war.

"There may be allegations. But he has not done anything wrong. He has not committed any war crimes. We will appeal and send him back," Mr Atapattu said.

A report in The Guardian newspaper in July quoted a confidential report that claimed the Sri Lanka commander in Mali, who was not named in the report, is alleged to have committed war crimes during the civil war, which ended in 2009. It said the report was produced by the South-Africa based International Truth and Justice Project, and also cited other Sri Lankans taking part in UN peacekeeping operations.

The Sri Lanka Army called the deployment to Mali "one more feather in its cap" when it was set to start sending the 200-strong Combat Convoy Company to serve in the UN peacekeeping mission last November. It said Sri Lankan troops were also participating in other UN peacekeeping missions including in Lebanon and South Sudan.

Both Sri Lankan government soldiers and the now-defeated Tamil Tiger rebels were accused of war crimes during the country's 26-year civil war.

Tens of thousands of people were reported to have been killed in just the final months of the fighting.


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