12 Count Genocide Indictment Charges Filed Against Top Sri Lanka Officials

February 06, 2009

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WASHINGTON, February 6 /PRNewswire/ -- A 12-count indictment on charges for genocide was filed with Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice yesterday, against Sri Lanka's president Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Defense Secretary Sarath Fonseka. Bruce Fein, former deputy asst. attorney general during the Reagan Administration, filed the indictment yesterday under the U.S. Genocide Accountability Act of 2007 (GAA). Both are charged with command responsibility for genocidal deaths perpetrated by their subordinates in the Sri Lankan security forces.

Fein asserts that this is the first genocide investigation and prosecution under the GAA. The GAA applies to genocide irrespective of the place of its occurrence. Rajapaksa and Fonseka are U.S. citizen and green-card holders, respectively.

The indictment charges Rajapaksa and Fonseka with genocide of Tamils in twelve discrete geographic areas of Sri Lanka between December 6, 2005 (when both men assumed their government positions) to the present. The indictment chronicles more than 3,750 extrajudicial killings, with 10,000 suffering bodily injury and more than 1.3 million displacements. Fein states, "These numbers far exceed displacements in Kosovo which lead to genocide counts before the Intl. Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia."

Fein, counsel for the groups Tamils Against Genocide and newly formed Tamil Legal Defense Fund, expects that the filing of the indictment will prompt victims' families to file suits against Rajapaksa and Fonseka on behalf of victims under the Torture Victims Protection Act of 1991.

Mr. Fein is available for comment.