Still open to foreign help in war crimes court

inquirySri Lanka remains open to foreign participation in a special court to examine allegations of war crimes in the island nation’s 26-year civil war, its foreign minister said Thursday.

A U.N. resolution that was passed with the government’s backing in October calls for a court supported by foreign judges, lawyers and investigators. But Sri Lanka’s president said last month the nation’s own judiciary is up to the task.

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera said Thursday that was only the president’s opinion. He said that the independence and credibility of the Sri Lankan judiciary had been undermined under the previous government.

The minister said the participation of foreign judges, forensic experts, investigators, and prosecutors is being considered.

“We will look into all those options and come up with a court which is not only credible but also acceptable to the victims of the war,” Samaraweera told the United States Institute for Peace, after meeting Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department.

Samaraweera said the “contours” of a special court should be clear in the next five to six months, after consultations with other parties, including representatives of the ethnic Tamil minority.

A U.N. report says there are strong indications both government soldiers and Tamil Tiger rebels committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during the conflict that ended in 2009, when the rebels’ separatist fight was crushed.

The U.N. estimates that at least 80,000 people were killed, and possibly many more, including up to 40,000 civilians in the last month of the war. (AP)

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