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Page last updated at 08:23 GMT, Wednesday, 2 September 2009 09:23 UK

UN call for S Lanka video probe

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Footage allegedly showing the killing of prisoners. Its authenticity cannot be verified. It has been edited here to remove the most disturbing images

A senior UN official has called for an investigation into whether Sri Lankan soldiers violated international law by executing unarmed Tamils.

The allegation of such killings was made last week by a Sri Lankan exile group which circulated video footage.

The footage was allegedly filmed in January during the final stages of the bloody conflict with the Tamil Tigers.

It shows a man dressed as a soldier shooting a naked man in the head. Eight other bodies are seen on the ground.

It is impossible to verify the video's authenticity. Sri Lanka's government says the footage was fabricated.

Controversy

A group called Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka said it was filmed during the war eight months ago and that it did depict government forces.

Philip Alston, the UN's special rapporteur on summary executions, told the Reuters news agency that there was "nothing on the surface" to indicate that the controversial video was not authentic.

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Colombo says the film has become the subject of heated controversy in the Sri Lankan capital.

The Sri Lankan government says the video is aimed at bringing it into disrepute.

But Mr Alston said the authorities were obliged to have a "very thorough investigation" in response to such an allegation.

He said such a probe should preferably be international to ensure its independence.

Meanwhile President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said Sri Lanka needs to look to the future and not dwell on the past, according to the Forbes Asia website, which interviewed him.

It quoted him as saying there was no need for a truth and reconciliation commission and adding: "I don't think it is healthy to start digging into the history."



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