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Attorney-General kills war crimes charges -

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The Federal Attorney-General has used his discretion to kill off three war crimes charges filed by
a 63-year-old Sydney man against Sri Lankan president Mohindra Rajapaksa.

Transcript

ALI MOORE, PRESENTER: Former prime minister Malcolm Fraser says the Federal Government must put
more pressure on Sri Lanka to address war crimes allegations.

Mr Fraser made the comments after Lateline revealed last night that a 63-year-old Sydney man has
filed three war crimes charges against the Sri Lankan president, Mahinda Rajapaksa.

However today the Federal Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, used his discretionary powers to
kill off the charges.

Hamish Fitzsimmons reports.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS, REPORTER: When he was prime minister, Malcolm Fraser used CHOGM to push for
Rhodesia's independence as Zimbabwe.

MALCOM FRASER, FORMER PRIME MINISTER: If I single out Robert Mugabe for a particularly warm
welcome, it's because his presence here is a tangible reminder of the effectiveness of the modern
Commonwealth.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Some things don't work out as planned. But Mr Fraser still believes the
Commonwealth Forum can and must be used for change.

MALCOLM FRASER: People forget that at the time it was hailed as a success: for over 10 years Mugabe
governed reasonably, and it was only after that that there has been a steady and terrible decline
with atrocities and brutality and thuggery taking over. So the Commonwealth has, in the past, done
substantial things, and it can do it again.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Last night, 63-year-old Sydney man Jegan Waran told Lateline he'd filed war
crimes charges against Sri Lankan Mahinda Rajapaksa as head of the armed forces during the civil
war which ended in 2009.

Jegan Waran was working as a volunteer in Tamil-held areas, and says Sri Lankan armed forces
deliberately attacked clearly marked civilian infrastructure such as hospitals.

JEGAN WARAN, FORMER VOLUNTEER: Patients were killed, and patients who were in the hospital were
killed, and there were other patients waiting for treatment - they were killed. And there was a
medical store where they kept the medicines. Those were destroyed - scattered all over the place
you can see. Ambulances was destroyed. So I have seen that personally.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Today the Federal Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, refused to give the
necessary consent to allow the charges to proceed.

A spokesman said Mr Rajapaska has diplomatic immunity, and proceeding would be in breach of
domestic law and Australia's obligations under international law.

The Sri Lankan high commissioner to Australia, Thisara Samarasinghe, declined Lateline's request
for an interview, but told 7.30 last week when he was accused of war crimes the allegations are
completely without substance.

THISARA SAMARASINGHE, SRI LANKAN HIGH COMMISSIONER: I would categorically say it is not the
learning of Sri Lankan military to fire at a hospital. That has never happened in our military.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: He says by defeating the Tamil Tigers, or LTTE, the Sri Lankan military in fact
saved Tamil civilians.

THISARA SAMARASINGHE: My most important achievement in the military was saving these civilians who
were under the clutches of terrorists. So there is no base logic to target civilians. I reject
that.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: In April this year, a United Nations panel of experts appointed by Ban Ki-moon
found credible reports that both government forces and Tamil rebels committed war crimes towards
the end of the civil war.

The government of Mahinda Rajapaksa dismissed the report but the Canadian prime minister Stephen
Harper says he will boycott CHOGM in Sri Lanka in 2013 if the country doesn't address human rights
issues - a position Malcolm Fraser believes Australia should emulate.

MALCOLM FRASER: I do believe there needs to be a fuller and better inquiry into actions of the
government and of the Tamils, because the reports that have come out from not only the UN Human
Rights Commission but also from the International Crisis Group suggests that there've been major
atrocities by both sides in this conflict.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: The Australian Government has also called on the Sri Lankan government to
address the issues raised in the report.

JULIA GILLARD, PRIME MINISTER: We have called consistently for Sri Lanka to address the reports of
human rights violations, particularly the reports from the end stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka,
and we will continue to do that. We will continue to call on Sri Lanka to address those claims of
human rights violations.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Malcolm Fraser says stronger action needs to be taken, but doesn't think
suspending Sri Lanka from the Commonwealth is the answer.

MALCOLM FRASER: Under current circumstances, holding the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting
in Sri Lanka in two years' time is quite inappropriate. I wouldn't rub Sri Lanka out. I'd say
postpone it if other business has to be cleared up first. And we might need more time to do that.

So let's tentatively write Sri Lanka in for, say, two years further on. Allocate 2013 to some other
country willing to host the conference. And there'd be a number who would.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: The former Liberal prime minister is attending CHOGM in Perth, and believes the
Federal Government has failed to take a strong enough stance against alleged human rights abuses on
both sides of the conflict in Sri Lanka.

MALCOLM FRASER: To this point I think we've got one leg each side of a barbed wire fence. That's a
rather uncomfortable position to be in you've ever tried it.

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: CHOGM officially begins on Friday.