Forensic experts highlighted that in looking into cases of missing persons and disappearances through skeletal remains in mass graves and vice versa, one had to initially find out the historical facts of the place and question those in the vicinity.
Senior Professor of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Colombo, Prof. Ravindra Fernando, who was a nominee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the United Nations Expert Group on Exhumations and Missing Persons in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2000, said that making a positive identification of those whose skeletal remains may have been found in or near a mass grave such as the one in Mannar was essential in order for them to be struck off the missing persons list or the list of disappearances.
Firstly, one has to find out things like whether the area where the mass grave is, contained a camp belonging to the LTTE or the Sri Lanka Army, he noted, adding that subsequently those in the vicinity should be questioned on whether they saw or heard of anything relating to what has been unearthed.
“Following this a Magistrate’s order must be obtained to conduct exhumations. Each skeletal remain must be analyzed. First, it must be found out whether the said remains belonged to humans. Then it must be ascertained whether they belonged to males or females, and also the ages of the individuals. How they were killed must be found out next. Personal belongings, clothing and deoxyribonucleic acid too play a role in definitely identifying a person. One needs proof to say who was responsible,” he explained.