Human rights groups in South America have filed war crimes lawsuits against a former Sri Lankan general who is now his country’s ambassador to Brazil.
The lawsuits against Jagath Jayasuriya allege he oversaw military units that attacked hospitals and killed, disappeared and tortured thousands of people in the final phase of Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2009.
But the groups pursuing the suits hope they will compel regional governments to open investigations of Jayasuriya, remove his immunity and expel him.
Carlos Castresana Fernandez, the lawyer coordinating the effort, told the Associated Press news agency that suits have been filed on Monday in Brazil and Colombia.
Petitions will be filed in Argentina, Chile and Peru in the coming days, he said, adding that authorities in Suriname had refused to accept the petition.
“This is one genocide that has been forgotten, but this will force democratic countries to do something,” Fernandez said. “This is just the beginning of the fight.”
Jayasuriya’s whereabouts were not immediately known.
Calls to the Sri Lankan embassy in Brazil’s capital went unanswered Monday evening as did an email seeking comment.
The criminal suits were spearheaded by the human rights group International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP), an evidence-gathering organisation based in South Africa.
The suits say Jayasuriya was commander of the Vanni Security Force from 2007 to 2009, one of the bloodiest periods in a 26-year war that is estimated to have killed more than 100,000 people.