Sri Lankan soldier handed death sentence for Tamil massacre

Updated 25 June 2015

Sri Lankan soldier handed death sentence for Tamil massacre

COLOMBO: A Sri Lankan court on Thursday handed the death sentence to a soldier convicted of slitting the throats of eight Tamil civilians, including four children, during the island’s separatist war.
Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake was ordered hanged over the massacre in 2000 of the ethnic minority Tamils who had returned to their bombed out homes on the northern Jaffna peninsula to try to salvage their belongings.
Ratnayake is said to have slit the throats of the eight, including the children, a five-year-old and three teenagers, before burying them in a mass grave, according to prosecutors.
The High Court in Colombo acquitted four other soldiers on Thursday over the killings, citing a lack of direct evidence, court officials said.
Army spokesman Jayanath Jayaweera said Ratnayake’s sentence showed that the authorities were following due process in dealing with abuses committed during the war.
“This (verdict) is a good example to show the (justice) system is working well,” Brig. Jayaweera told reporters.
Soldiers are rarely tried in civilian courts in Sri Lanka. The military has faced international condemnation for alleged atrocities committed during the decades-long conflict that ended in 2009 when the military crushed Tamil rebels.
Sri Lanka has some 300 prisoners technically on death row, but there is an unofficial moratorium on capital punishment and authorities have not carried out an execution since 1976.
President Maithripala Sirisena came to power in January promising reconciliation and accountability for abuses during the war, including allegations that up to 40,000 civilians were killed in the final phase.


Russia proposes new missile verification regime with US after demise of treaty

Updated 20 min 19 sec ago

Russia proposes new missile verification regime with US after demise of treaty

  • The United States withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty last year

MOSCOW: The Kremlin on Monday proposed that Russia and the United States agree not to deploy certain land-based missiles in Europe and introduce mutual verification measures to build trust following the demise of the INF nuclear arms control treaty.
The United States withdrew from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty last year, accusing Moscow of violating it, a charge denied by the Kremlin.
Global nuclear arms control architecture has come under further strain since then as the former Cold War foes have been unable to agree on a replacement to New START, another major arms control pact that is due to expire in February 2021.
On Monday, the Kremlin suggested “de-escalation” measures, such as allowing Russia to conduct checks on the US Aegis Ashore system in Europe, and the United States to check Russia’s 9M729 missiles in facilities in the exclave of Kaliningrad.
“We propose all interested sides to consider concrete options for mutual verification measures to remove existing concerns,” the Kremlin said in a statement on its website.
The INF pact had prohibited land-based missiles with a range of 310-3,400 miles, reducing the ability of both countries to launch a nuclear strike at short notice.