U.S. Court dismisses war crimes case against former Sri Lankan Army General

Feb 09, New York: The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has dismissed the lawsuit against a former General of Sri Lanka Army filed by the relatives of two Sri Lankan Tamils alleging war crimes.

The U.S. federal court Wednesday dismissed the case against Major General Shavendra Silva, Sri Lanka’s deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, on the grounds of diplomatic immunity granted to Silva.

The plaintiffs, Vathsala Devi, the widow of a senior LTTE terrorist leader Colonel Ramesh, and Seetharam Sivam have alleged that their relatives were tortured and wrongful killed by the Sri Lankan military.

Major General Silva has filed a motion to dismiss the law suit on the grounds that he is a currently serving, accredited diplomat entitled to immunity from civil jurisdiction in the United States under federal statute and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

In deciding the case U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken concluded that the diplomatic immunity precludes the Court from considering the merits of the palintiffs’ claims against Major General Silva, “at least while he is cloaked with immunity as a United Nations representative.”

The Court granted Silva’s motion to dismiss and dismissed the complaint for “lack of subject matter jurisdiction.”

Silva took up office as the Deputy Permanent Representative to the Mission in New York last year after performing the role of Commander of the Sri Lanka Army’s 58th Division during the final war against the LTTE.

Major General Silva was instrumental in the military capturing several former LTTE strongholds including the Mannar Rice Bowl, Nachchikudha, Devils Point, Pooneryn, Kilinochchi, Elephant Pass, Vishvamadu and Puthukudiyiruppu.

Ruling Devi v. Silva

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