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Amnesty welcomes new probe into Trinco 5 deaths

Amnesty International (AI) is welcoming the decision by the Attorney General of Sri Lanka to recommence investigations into the killing of the 5 Tamil students allegedly by the Sri Lankan security forces in Trincomalee on 02 January 2006.

In a statement, Amnesty noted that in order for investigations to be effective and successful there are reforms which are required.

The decision by the AG follows the acquittal of the 13 Special Task Force (STF) officers earlier this month, reportedly due to the “lack of evidence”.

On 02 January 2006, Ragihar Manoharan and four other Sri Lankan Tamil students known later as the Trinco 5 were allegedly killed by security forces in the city of Trincomalee, in Sri Lanka.

The Government had made claims that the youths were killed in a grenade attack, but medical reports had revealed that those students were shot at close range.

A case was then filed against 13 STF members who were suspected of murdering the students.

On 03 July 2019, the suspects were acquitted reportedly due to a “lack of evidence”.

A statement issued by AI, notes the importance of a thorough, effective and impartial investigation into the murders to ensure justice for the victims of human rights violations and abuses.

AI also went on to emphasize the obligation the government of Sri Lanka has under international law to carry out justice to the victims of these killings through the domestic court system or through a judicial mechanism with a special counsel to investigate allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, which the government proposed to establish in UN Human Rights Council resolution 30/1 (2015).

According to the statement, AI also urges the Sri Lankan government to strengthen witness protection and mutual legal assistance from countries where witnesses and victims may now reside, in order to effectively investigate the killings and pursue accountability for the ‘Trinco 5’.

A journalist who took photographs of the bodies, Subramaniyam Sugirdharajan, was also allegedly murdered, just a few weeks following the initial murder and thereafter Dr.Casipillai Manoharan, was forced to flee the country after receiving many death threats

Two youths who survived the attacks and families of other victims were also forced to flee the country.

Amnesty also voiced concern for witnesses and victims in the case and urged the government of Sri Lanka to amend the Assistance to and Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses Act of 2015 to further strengthen and facilitate the participation of witnesses and victims outside of Sri Lanka.