A rights group documenting alleged abuses in Sri Lanka has filed a criminal complaint with Singapore’s attorney general, seeking the arrest of former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for his role in the South Asian Nation’s decades-long civil war.
The International Truth and Justice Project said Rajapaksa committed grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions during the civil war in 2009 when he was country’s defense chief, according to a copy of the complaint.
The South Africa-based ITJP argued that based on universal jurisdiction the alleged abuses were subject to prosecution in Singapore, where he fled after months of unrest over his country’s economic crisis.
Rajapaksa submitted his resignation in Singapore, a day after fleeing on July 13.
Anti-government protesters had stormed the offices and official residences of the president and the prime minister.
“The criminal complaint that has been filed is (based on) verifiable information on both the crimes that have been committed, but also on evidence really linking the individual in question, who is now in Singapore,” Alexandra Lily Kather, one of the lawyers that drafted the complaint said.
“Singapore really has a unique opportunity with this complaint, with its own law and with its own policy, to speak truth to power.”
Rajapaksa could not be reached for comment through Sri Lanka’s High Commission in Singapore. He has previously strenuously denied allegations he was responsible for rights abuses during the war.
The country’s foreign ministry has said Rajapaksa entered the Southeast Asian city-state on a private visit and had not sought or been granted asylum.