Fonseka ready to face local court on allegations

Democratic Party founder and former army Commander Sarath Fonseka on Saturday, offered himself to face a domestic court of law on allegations against military operations during the Eelam War.In an interview with The Hindu, Fonseka, who was conferred by the present regime with the highest military rank of Field Marshal, said “if there are allegations against military operations, I am ready to face anybody and present the right picture. There is no problem. My conscience is clear.” While he was for taking the help of foreign expertise in legal matters, Fonseka said “being transparent [in the entire process] is better for our credibility.” (Colombo Gazette) Fonseka, who headed the SLA between December 2005 and July 2009, also wanted those who were his colleagues in the Army to cooperate with the authorities concerned. He was responding to a query whether he was willing to face an inquiry in the wake of the publication of a report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL). He said that if credible evidence was available, investigation should be done; due process of law be followed and those found guilty be punished.“If we are sincere, let us follow the proper legal procedures. We do not have to cover up [anything] or hush up.” At the same time, he brushed aside the finding made by the OISL that “incidents of sexual violence were not isolated acts but part of a deliberate policy.” Fonseka asserted that “these things never happen in an organised manner with the knowledge of superiors.” He maintained that “it is not part of our thinking or tactics to do such things.”The former Army Commander recalled that when the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was here in Sri Lanka between July 1987 and March 1990, there were “enough complaints [against it].” He added that a section of those who went through detention during the Eelam War must have indulged in “propaganda” against the Army.Nevertheless, he did not reject all the findings made by the UN report. He favoured a domestic investigation mechanism. To support this point, he also referred to the death sentence awarded by the High Court of Colombo in June to a soldier of the SLA in connection with a murder of eight internally-displaced Tamils in Northern Province in December 2000. read more

Veterans dismay as relatives excluded from Cenotaph Remembrance Day march

first_imgOrganisers are hoping numbers will go up today before accreditation is finalised. The Legion said it expects numbers to increase back to 10,000 next year when the new system is more widely understood.It said the change had been made to control numbers at the “oversubscribed” service, which this year falls on November 13 and allow the maximum number of service personnel and veterans to take part.Under the new rules, veterans who struggle to walk will be assigned help from someone already taking part, rather than being allowed support from their family.A spokeswoman said: “We stand by the decision to apply more rigorous eligibility criteria for participation in the March Past, which was taken with the agreement of a wide range of stakeholder groups from across the veteran community and government. “As a result of this decision every veteran who wants to march past the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday is now able to do so, and we must prioritise those who have served as part of the British Armed Forces.The number of participants this year is marginally lower than our limit of 10,000, however we expect to see this figure rise again next year once the new system is more widely understood.” But this year the Royal British Legion has admitted failing to fill its allocation after being forced to draw up a strict criteria.Fears of a terror atrocity have led police to insist for the first time those wanting to take part register in advance to supply names, addresses and dates of birth.In addition to security concerns, the Legion said it had drawn up a list of include only veterans and widows. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. However, veterans sources said many people had been caught out by the change and either failed to apply, or applied too late.One source familiar with the arrangements said: “It’s a shame because there’s a real risk the parade is going to look a lot smaller this year.”Another veterans’ source said: “We’ve had some people complaining about the new rules, saying they cannot apply for tickets.”The rules have caused anger among some families who have marched in remembrance of their relatives in the past. Sally Aitchison told rerporters said she had been taking part for the past five years in honour of her father.The 47-year-old, from Croydon, said: “I got a call saying I didn’t have a ticket because of this and I’m still in a state of shock. Every year I get my father’s medals down from where I have them in storage.”Standing on the sidelines is just never going to be the same.”Sources said the threat of a terrorist attack means Scotland Yard has insisted on new “enhanced security arrangements”, including named tickets and photo ID for those taking part.Nadir Syed was earlier this year jailed for life for plotting to murder someone around Armistice Day in 2014. The 23-year-old from West London had been inspired by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil), after listening to a call to arms by the group’s spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani.Police sources said there was no specific intelligence of a threat against the high-profile event this year, but “security measures and advice remain under constant review in an effort to keep everyone safe.”The terror threat level in the UK is currently “severe”, meaning an attack is “highly likely”.center_img Senior veterans have expressed anger after family members were excluded from the Remembrance Sunday march past the Cenotaph amid heightened security.Terror fears and a ban on all relatives but widows taking part means the annual veterans parade could have a shortfall of as many as 1,600 people.For years the event has been oversubscribed, with 10,000 people usually joining the annual Whitehall parade. Colonel Richard Kemp, a former commander of Armed Forces in Afghanistan, said it was a “great shame” that children and parents were missing out on the chance to pay tribute.”It cannot be underestimated how much these memorials mean to the loved ones of those who have been lost,” he added.”I think the Royal British Legion should have been more proactive in the circumstances to make sure every place available was filled.”They have had a long time to think about this. We certainly cannot say that this security threat is new.”Ticketing for the event has also been tightened, with many people having forgotten to apply, it is claimed.last_img read more