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Sri Lanka calls 'war crimes' video a fake

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 26 August 2009

Sri Lanka’s military says a video clip allegedly showing its soldiers executing prisoners during the battle against Tamil Tigers rebels is a fake.

Screenshot from footage

Sri Lankan army spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said the footage – broadcast by Channel 4 News last night – was a fabrication designed to discredit security forces.

He said: "This video has been made to discredit the armed forces. This was said to have been filmed at a time when the Tigers too were operating dressed in Sri Lankan military uniforms."

The video was passed to Channel 4 News by a group called Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka. It campaigns for press freedom in the Asian country.

The group said the video was taken in January by a soldier using a mobile phone, when government forces overwhelmed the stronghold of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) at Kilinochchi.

The capture of Kilinochchi was a milestone in the army’s final push against the Tamil Tigers, which triumphantly concluded a 27-year war in May.

By January, when the video was allegedly filmed, foreign and most local journalists had been banned from the conflict zone.

Despite previous claims that the Sri Lankan army had committed war crimes during the conflict, it has so far staved off a UN investigation.

The Sri Lankan High Commission told Channel 4 News: "The High Commission has noted that in many instances in the past, various media institutions used doctored videos, photographs and documents to defame the Sri Lankan Government and armed forces.

"Therefore, we request you to verify the authenticity of the video footage."

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