Scotland Yard probes function of British mercenaries in combat towards Sri Lanka’s LTTE

By: PTI | London |

November 30, 2020 10:35:37 pm

Britain refused to formally ship troops to assist Jayewardene, fearing it might have jeopardised “substantial industrial and defence” offers. In image right here, LTTE troops. (Wikimedia commons)

Scotland Yard’s Battle Crimes Staff, which is a part of its Counter-Terrorism Command, has launched an investigation into the function of British mercenaries in preventing the LTTE rebels in Sri Lanka through the Eighties.

The Metropolitan Police mentioned it has acquired a referral in March regarding alleged conflict crimes resulting in a scoping train, which has now been expanded into an investigation.

It follows revelations {that a} non-public safety firm, Keenie Meenie Companies (KMS), skilled an elite unit of the Sri Lankan police referred to as the Particular Activity Drive (STF) within the Eighties to combat the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels.

The references emerged in a ebook by UK-based investigative journalist Phil Miller earlier this 12 months, primarily based on declassified UK authorities paperwork and freedom of data requests.

The ebook, ‘Keenie Meenie: The British Mercenaries Who Obtained Away With Battle Crimes’, had additionally claimed that the Indian Peace Conserving Drive (IPKF) acquired air assist from a few of these for-hire UK pilots.

“We are able to verify that the Met’s Battle Crimes Staff – a part of its Counter Terrorism Command – acquired a referral in March regarding conflict crimes alleged to have been dedicated by British Mercenaries in Sri Lanka through the Eighties,” a Met Police assertion mentioned.

“Following receipt of the referral, the Battle Crimes Staff started a scoping train into the matter and have subsequently launched an investigation. We’re not ready to debate any additional particulars of what stays an energetic and ongoing police investigation into this matter,” it mentioned.

Keenie Meenie, from the title of the ebook, is regarded as an Arabic slang for covert actions and was run by a retired colonel, Jim Johnson – a former Particular Air Companies (SAS) commander, who had performed secret missions in Yemen and Oman.

Johnson’s counter-insurgency expertise got here to the eye of then Sri Lankan President Junius Jayewardene at the beginning of Sri Lanka’s civil conflict in 1983, when the Anglophile chief was on the lookout for British assist to defeat the Tamil Tigers.

Britain refused to formally ship troops to assist Jayewardene, fearing it might have jeopardised “substantial industrial and defence” offers.

“I welcome this police investigation which is lengthy overdue. A lot of the proof towards KMS is contained in British Overseas Workplace recordsdata which had been stored categorized for 30 years, permitting some senior KMS figures to cross away with out ever dealing with justice,” mentioned Miller, in reference to the Met Police probe.

“Extra proof is coming to mild that exhibits KMS had been linked to atrocities not simply towards Sri Lanka”s Tamil minority but in addition towards the Sinhalese majority, so there are many inquiries to be requested concerning the extent of this British firm”s function in Sri Lanka”s turbulent historical past,” he mentioned.

The Tamil Info Centre (TIC) in London had despatched an in depth file of proof to the Met Police earlier this 12 months.

“Battle crimes dedicated by the Sri Lankan state, ably assisted by British mercenaries triggered dying, displacement and big struggling to the Tamil folks.

“All of those that dedicated these conflict crimes needs to be delivered to justice. We hope that this investigation is step one to finally a profitable prosecution,” mentioned Anuraj Sinna, a director of the Tamil Info Centre.

The KMS personnel are alleged to have flown helicopter gunships that had been concerned in assaults on Tamil civilians. The corporate”s workers additionally skilled Sri Lankan paramilitaries and commandos in addition to giving operational recommendation on the highest stage.

Paul Heron, a solicitor on the Public Curiosity Legislation Centre which is representing TIC, mentioned: “That is the primary investigation that we all know of into British mercenaries working abroad and alleged to have dedicated conflict crimes. The KMS was concerned in covert actions throughout the planet, from Nicaragua to Sri Lanka.”

The KMS got here into being within the Nineteen Seventies with battle-hardened British veterans and, in accordance with Miller’s ebook primarily based on beforehand categorized accounts, had been energetic in controversial operations around the globe with the UK governments of the time unable to completely management them.

The IPKF is believed to have acquired air assist from these for-hire British pilots, regardless of Indian diplomats publicly condemning the presence of UK mercenaries in Sri Lanka.

In accordance with the ebook, India”s secret use of British mercenaries lasted for 4 months after the Indo-Lanka accord was signed between former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Jayewardene in 1987.

The ebook additionally traces the involvement of British mercenaries in atrocities towards Tamil civilians that occurred previous to the arrival of the IPKF.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) ran a navy marketing campaign for a separate Tamil homeland within the northern and japanese provinces of the island nation for practically 30 years earlier than its collapse in 2009 after the Sri Lankan Military killed its supreme chief Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Sri Lanka”s human rights document, significantly over the impunity loved by regulation enforcement officers, has been the topic of worldwide condemnation.

The UN Human Rights Council has referred to as for a world probe into the alleged conflict crimes through the navy battle with the LTTE.

In accordance with the federal government figures, round 20,000 individuals are lacking as a result of varied conflicts together with the 30-year-long separatist conflict with Lankan Tamils within the north and east which claimed no less than 100,000 lives.

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