Sri Lanka drops charges against former naval chief for 11 killings

The investigation against Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda was part of a case that highlighted extrajudicial killings during the nation’s 37-year ethnic war.

Sri Lankan authorities have dropped charges, including assassination conspiracy, against a former naval chief linked to 11 murders that drew international condemnation, the country’s attorney general announced.

The investigation against Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda was part of a case that highlighted extrajudicial executions during Sri Lanka’s 37-year ethnic war that ended in 2009.

Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam told the Court of Appeals on Wednesday that the state will not press charges against Karannagoda, who was first indicted in 2019.

A court official told AFP news agency that a lower court would soon remove Karannagoda, who is one of 14 people accused of abducting teenage children from wealthy families in 2008 and 2009 and killing them after extorting them.

He was charged with four counts, including conspiracy to murder, which carries the death penalty.

Human rights regulator Amnesty International urged the Sri Lankan authorities to explain why they dropped the case.

The murder of the 11 youths was raised at the UN Human Rights Council, which called for independent investigations into the atrocities committed during the separatist war.

Police told a court in 2019 that the 11 victims were killed while in the illegal custody of the Navy, although their bodies have never been found.

Investigators believe that the actual number of victims of kidnappings and murders is at least three times higher.

Police said the victims were not linked to ethnic Tamil separatist rebels and were abducted simply to extort money from families. Some died even after the cash was handed over to them.

Military figures have been widely accused of extrajudicial executions during the war.

The last days of the crackdown on the Tamils ​​were marked by serious abuses, according to human rights groups.

A UN panel has said that 40,000 civilians may have died in the final stages of the conflict.

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