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French charity urges Sri Lanka to act over killings

Colombo: A French charity urged Sri Lanka’s government on Thursday to hold a credible investigation into the killing a decade ago of 17 of its staff.
The head of Action Against Hunger (ACF) said it was time for Sri Lanka to act on its promises as she visited the island to mark the 10th anniversary of the massacre.
No one has ever been prosecuted over the execution style killings of ACF staff, among them four women, the worst attack against humanitarian workers during the island’s 37-year-long ethnic war.
Human Rights Watch has said mishandling of the case by successive Sri Lankan governments showed the need for credible international involvement to determine who carried out the killings.
ACF Chief Executive Veronique Andrieux said the charity was closely monitoring Colombo’s pledge at the UN Human Rights Council in September to establish an internationally acceptable mechanism to prosecute war criminals.
“What we hope is that this accountability mechanism will be able to deliver a credible legal and just solution,” Andrieux told AFP.
“We are awaiting concrete steps in the right direction. It is now time for action.”
The killings took place during the decades-long separatist war that came to an abrupt end in May 2009 after government forces crushed the Tamil rebel leadership in a major offensive.
The workers, all Sri Lankan, were massacred near Trincomalee, 260 kilometers (160 miles) north-east of Colombo, at a time when government forces were locked in combat with separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in the area.
Andrieux said the ACF had held a private remembrance event in the capital on Wednesday and a similar ceremony would be held Friday in Trincomalee.
Previous Sri Lankan investigations into the ACF attack have been inconclusive, and the UN has said security forces intimidated the victims’ relatives whenever international attention was paid to the case.
A UN report published last year pointed fingers at the Sri Lankan military, which has strongly denied it had any hand in the killings.