14 Mar 2009

Sri Lanka government denies war crimes

9:05 pm on 14 March 2009

The Sri Lankan government has angrily rejected a United Nations report that says it may be guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The UN High Commissioner of Human Rights also accused the rebel Tamil Tigers of similar abuses. In the long conflict between the goverment and the rebels, the UN says that more than 280,000 thousand civilians may have been killed.

But Sri Lankan human rights minister Mahindra Samarasinghe says the UN has used unsubstantiated figures.

He also says Sri Lanka is very disappointed by accusations by the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights that government forces repeatedly fired at safe zones set up to protect civilians.

Mr Samarasinghe accused UN human rights chief Navi Pillay of relying on pro-rebel elements to arrive at her assessment.