RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 29, (AP): Human rights groups in South America are alleging war crimes violations in lawsuits filed against a former Sri Lankan general who is now his Asian nation’s ambassador to Brazil and five other countries in Latin America.
The suits against Jagath Jayasuriya are based on his role as a commander in the final phase of Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2009. They allege Jayasuriya oversaw military units that attacked hospitals and killed, disappeared and tortured thousands of people.
Jayasuriya has diplomatic immunity in the countries where he is ambassador: Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Suriname. But the groups pursuing the suits hope they will compel regional governments to expel him.
Carlos Castresana Fernandez, the lawyer coordinating the effort, told The Associated Press on Monday night that suits were filed Monday in Brazil and Colombia.
Petitions also will be filed in Argentina, Chile and Peru in the coming days, he said, adding that authorities in Suriname refused to accept the suit.
Jayasuriya’s whereabouts were not immediately known. Fernandez said Brazilian justice officials told him Jayasuriya had left Brazil on Sunday. That couldn’t be independently confirmed.
The criminal suits, reviewed by the AP, were spearheaded by the human rights group International Truth and Justice Project, an evidence-gathering organization based in South Africa. The suits have three central aims: push local authorities to open investigations of Jayasuriya, remove his diplomatic immunity and expel him.
Many of the nations where Jayasuriya is ambassador have their own dark histories of military dictatorships and torture.