Photos prove army executed Tamil Tiger chief's son, says documentary maker

Director says documentary tells 'chilling story' of 12-year-old Tamil being riddled with bullets

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 February, 2013, 5:07am


Photos released on Tuesday to publicise a new documentary on Sri Lanka show that government soldiers executed the 12-year-old son of separatist chief Velupillai Prabhakaran in 2009, its director claimed.

The photos, part of a documentary for Britain's Channel 4, proved the Sri Lankan army's involvement in war crimes including summary execution and torture during the island's civil war, Callum Macrae said.

The pictures "tell a chilling story", Macrae wrote in an article published in the Indian newspaper The Hindu.

In one, Balachandran, the youngest son of the slain Tamil Tiger leader, is seen eating a snack while sitting in a green sandbag bunker guarded by a soldier. A second image shows his bullet-riddled bare-chested body.

The documentary alleges that Balachandran was executed two hours after the first photo was taken.

The images had been scrutinised by digital image analysts, who concluded they came from the same camera, and supported video footage of the boy's body uncovered last year, Macrae said. The government has maintained that Prabhakaran's family was killed in fighting. The bodies of his wife and daughter have never been found.

"The new photographs are particularly important evidentially, because they prove that Balachandran was not killed in crossfire, or in a battle. His death was deliberate and calculated," Macrae wrote. "It is difficult to imagine the mindset of an army in which a child can be executed in cold blood with apparent impunity."

The new photographs are particularly important evidentially, because they prove that Balachandran was not killed in crossfire, or in a battle

No War Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka will be released next month in Geneva to coincide with a UN Human Rights Council discussion on the country, now facing censure by the US over its failure to probe war crimes.

Sri Lanka's military denied executing prisoners and accused the British network of engaging in a campaign to tar the country's reputation.

"These pictures come out in time for the UN Human Rights Council meetings. They want to discredit us," Sri Lankan military spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanisasooriya said. "No evidence has been presented to us to investigate."

Macrae asked India to support calls for an independent probe and said President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brother, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, should be made to answer for alleged war crimes.

Rights groups say up to 40,000 civilians were killed by security forces in the final months of a no-holds-barred offensive in 2009 that ended a decades-long fight against Tamil separatists.

Sri Lanka denies causing civilian deaths and President Rajapaksa sees himself as having brought peace to the Indian Ocean island.