Human rights group requests immediate arrest of ex-Sri Lankan president in Singapore

By Associated Press

Sri Lanka’s unpopular prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was elected president Wednesday, in a secret parliamentary ballot that risked reigniting turmoil among a public outraged by the South Asian nation’s economic collapse. Citizens had mixed reactions, with some protesters insisting they “won’t back down” while supporters of Wickremesinghe celebrated the results with fireworks.

A rights group gathering evidence on Sri Lanka‘s alleged rights abuses said it filed a criminal complaint with Singapore’s Attorney General, seeking to arrest an ex-Sri Lankan president for his role in war crimes alleged to have been committed during the island nation’s civil war that ended more than a decade ago.

Lawyers from the International Truth and Justice Project— an evidence-gathering organization administered by a South Africa-based nonprofit foundation — filed the complaint, requesting the immediate arrest of ex-Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa for his role as the secretary of defense during Sri Lanka’s civil war, which ended in 2009, the group said in a release on Sunday.

Rajapaksa is believed to be living in Singapore after fleeing from Sri Lanka due to months of massive protests against him over the country’s economic meltdown. Rajapaksa fled the country in mid-July after angry Sri Lankan protesters stormed his residence. He first went to nearby Maldives and then flew to Singapore.

The group said “the 63-page complaint argues that Rajapaksa committed grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions during the civil war in 2009 when he was secretary of defence and that these are crimes subject to domestic prosecution in Singapore under universal jurisdiction.”

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