An Army Court of Inquiry appointed by the Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya has concluded that the instances of shelling on civilians during the later stages of the conflict against Tamil Tiger terrorists were not caused by the army.
The six-member Court of Inquiry comprising military officers has investigated Channel 4 claims referred to in the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) report.
The Court of Inquiry has also investigated the allegations that shelling by the Sri Lankan security forces has caused excessive civilian casualties.
The Court has submitted the report on the first part of their investigation on civilian casualties to the Army Commander today.
The report has said that the Army had followed the President's order of "Zero casualties" and the directives from the higher headquarters with regard to No Fire Zones (NFZs).
The Court of Inquiry has said that even where the LTTE terrorists had fired from NFZs, commanders had refrained from firing at such NFZs.
From the testimony presented, the Court of Inquiry has concluded that the instances of shelling referred to in the LLRC Report were not caused by the Sri Lanka Army and civilian casualties might have occurred due to unlawful acts by LTTE.
"These acts include targeting civilians fleeing to the safety of Army held areas and likely routes of escape, dropping of artillery rounds fired by ill-trained LTTE gunners on to civilian concentrations, employment of sub-standard artillery guns and incompatible and sub-standard artillery rounds obtained from illegal sources by the LTTE, forced conscription of civilians including children and old people by LTTE for combat purposes, thus exposing them to danger," the report said.
The Court of Inquiry will now proceed to investigate the 2nd part of their mandate, to probe Channel 4 allegation on summary executions of captured LTTE terrorists.