Colombo, December 30 (The Island): Two hundred and seventy-eight skeletal remains including that of men, women and children were unearthed from a Mass grave site in Mannar during 118 days of work.
The Office on Missing Persons (OMP) in a statement said they observed the process of selecting six bone samples for radio carbon dating at the Mannar mass grave, located near the Sathosa Building in Mannar town.
” Our task has been to gather evidence to determine the cause of death, time since death, the contributing circumstances and the specific identity of the individuals in this site, and also determine if all the skeletons are from the same historical period or different periods, while ensuring the integrity of the site and chain of custody of remains and other evidence,” Consultant Judicial Medical Officer, District General Hospital Mannar, Dr Rajapaksha was quoted as saying in the media release.
Dr Rajapaksha heads the investigation team and is assisted Professor Raj Somadeva who leads the archaeological team. Six samples were selected to represent the different areas and vertical layers of the site.
Following the samples being tested at a laboratory and the results being submitted, a preliminary combined excavation report including the test results and other findings will be submitted by the investigation team to the Magistrate Court.
“The OMP remains committed to establishing the truth about circumstances in which persons went missing and their fate” OMP Chairperson Saliya Peiris said in the release.
The OMP will provide financial assistance to carry out carbon dating as part of its continued support to the investigation, it added.
The OMP was established under the Office on Missing Persons Act No 14 of 2016, and has a primary mandate to search for and trace missing persons.
The process of selecting samples was carried out at the excavation site under the auspices of the Mannar Magistrate, Honourable T. Saravanaraja.
The team carrying out the sample selection included representatives from the Consultant Judicial Medical Officers, the Post Graduate Institute of Archaeology from the University of Kelaniya, the Police (Scene of Crime Officers – SOCO and crime investigation branch), and the Government Analysts Department.
OMP Commissioners Mirak Raheem and K. Venthan were present as observers.
Lawyers representing families of the disappeared and a member from the Citizens’ Committee were also present as observers.