Investigators to take human remains from Sri Lanka’s largest mass grave to USA (VIDEO)

By Kithsiri Wijesinghe

Human skeletal remains recovered from Sri Lanka’s largest mass grave discovered to date, will be taken to the USA to determine their time of burial.

A court in Sri Lanka authorized the lead forensic expert investigating the Mannar SATHOSA mass grave to be accompanied by a human rights lawyer to the Beta Analytic laboratory in Florida with bone samples for carbon dating.

So far, 185 bodies with at least 15 children have been unearthed from the site in the war-torn area where hundreds have disappeared.

“We will carefully select bone samples without leaving room for error and hand them over to the laboratory,” said forensic expert Dr Saminda Rajapaksha.

“Earlier there were issues with skeletal remains of some mass graves. Therefore, I will personally take charge of the delivery. I have received permission from court. The process would take some time.”


Funds would be made available by the government appointed Office on Missing Persons (OMP) led by President’s Counsel Saliya Pieris, he said.

Earlier, lawyers in Mannar had objected to sending bone samples recovered from the Thiruketheeswaram mass grave to Beta Analytic.

Their objection in 2014 was based on local forensic experts doubting the accuracy of carbon dating by Beta Analytic of the country’s second largest mass grave discovered in the central town of Matale.

It contained 154 bodies.

No objections

No one raised objections this time, said Dr Rajapaksha.

“We had a discussion on this issue with the Mannar Magistrate. There it was decided that a representative of the Mannar Lawyers Association to accompany me so that there would be more transparency.”

Dr Rajapaksha fears that the investigations will have to be abandoned if relatives whose loved ones have disappeared from the surrounding area do not come forward with information.

“That would make the entire effort pointless” said Dr Saminda Rajapaksha.

“Their assistance is vital in identifying the deceased. We have also requested the OMP to provide details of those who have disappeared from this area. If we do not get the information, we will be forced to throw these bones away.”

The OMP estimates at least 20,000 have disappeared from the Tamil majority north and east.

Most of them were not seen after surrendering to the military at the end of war in 2009 May.☐



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