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Mirusuvil massacre : Major Sidney de Soysa of Military Police continues evidence

by Indeewara Thilakarathne

"We walked to the house where Mahesvaran said they parked bicycles after passing through an area full of shrubs and many clearings ", said Major Sidney de Zoysa of the Military Police, continuing his evidence before the Trial -at -Bar hearing the Mirusuvil massacre at High Court of Colombo. He was being examined by Senior State Counsel Sarath Jayamanne.

The Trial-at-Bar comprised High Court Judges S.I. Imam (President), Sarath Ambepitiya and Kumar Ekaratne.

The Attorney General had framed charges against five soldiers of the Sri Lanka Army attached to the Gajabha Regiment of the Saliya Pura Camp in Anuradhapura with the murders of eight persons and causing injuries to another who were residents of the Mirusuvil village in Jaffna on December 19, 2000.

According to the indictment the accused are charged on 19 counts under Section 146 to be read with Section 296 of the Penel Code.

Examined by Senior State Counsel Sarath Jayamanna, Major Sidney Zoysa said that Mahesvaran had stopped the group at a house by the way, saying that it was where they had parked their bicycles and kept firewood. Though the group examined the house and the land, they could find no bicycle or firewood. Mahesvaran had told the witness that from this house he went to pluck guavas.

Major Zoysa said that the group was then taken to the place where Mahesvaran said that they plucked guavas. Proceeding along the way the group came to a clearing with an abandoned house. There was a tank adjoining a well by the house which was situated about 200 to 300 meters from the house at which Mahesvaran said they parked bicycles.

The group then proceeded on a clear road similar to that of a cart road, to the guava tree beyond the land. Mahesvaran before proceeding to the land had told the witness that his group was arrested on this land by a group suspected to be from the Army. He said they blindfolded them and took them to a toilet pit. He said that he believed that the others in the group were killed and dumped there.

Major Zoysa said that then the group proceeded to the pit passing a barbwire fence which served as a parameter for the land. The toilet pit was on the ground level and covered with a concrete slab. At this instance Mahesvaran pointed out to the bloodstain which were partially covered by coconut leaves on the slab. Mahesvaran said that his blindfold fell near the pit and he suspected that others' bodies were in the pit.

Having removed the slab, the witness along with, Major Premalal opened the pit. They observed no bodies at the bottom of the pit except a skeleton of an animal. The investigation team then decided to inspect another toilet pit. No suspected items were found in the pit.

At the stage the group noticed a house and there were clothes on the line including Army uniforms. They also noticed some civilians and persons in Army uniforms similar to that worn by Gajabha regiment.

On inquiry they informed the team that there was one officer and 20 other rankers in the house and that they belonged to a Special Operation Platoon.

Major Zoysa said that they came back to the first toilet pit and Sgt. Ranasinghe who was in charge of the (SOP) and called two soldiers to the place from that house. At this stage, the witness heard a loud cry from behind. When he turned he saw Mahesvaran clinging on to his father and crying.

Major Zoysa observed two soldiers in a state of fear and looked at Mahesvaran from time to time. Mahesvaran said that they were in the group of soldiers who attacked them.

Later the witness came to know of the two soldiers as Lance Corporal Sunil Ratnayaka and (soldier) Mahinda Kumara. Major Zoysa said that another three soldiers were presented to them.

The witness together with Major Premalal informed Sgt. Ranasinghe that these soldiers were wanted to be questioned further on the incident.

Thereafter, the witness called the cabs and went back to 55th Division.

Anil Silva, Mahinda Lokuge, Upul Rajakaruna and P.K.D. Mithraratne appeared for the five accused while D.W. Abayakoon PC with Chandrapala Kumarage, K.S. Ratnavale, K. Shanmugalingam, V. Punitharan and M. Remadius appeared for the aggrieved party.

Senior State Counsel Sarath Jayamanna, N. Marasinghe, State Counsel Sanjeeva Dissanayaka, Chetiya Gunasekara appeared for the prosecution.

Further hearing resumes on Monday.

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