Over 230 skeletons recovered from Mannar mass grave

Human rights groups say at least 20,000 people disappeared during Sri Lanka’s long civil war which ended in 2009. A court ordered detailed excavations at the site – a former co-operative depot near the main bus terminus – after human remains were found by workers digging foundations for a new building earlier this year.It is still not clear who the victims were or how they died. The 26-year war between troops and separatist Tamil rebels left at least 100,000 people dead. While Mannar town remained mostly under army control during the civil war, Tamil Tiger rebels dominated its surrounding areas and many other parts of the district. The military captured the entire district after ferocious battles which ended almost 10 years ago.After the remains are uncovered, they are transferred to the custody of the court in Mannar, which will decide what should happen next once the excavation is complete.A number of mass graves have been unearthed in Sri Lanka’s former war zone since the conflict ended. Sri Lankan experts say a mass grave found earlier this year in the north-western town of Mannar has turned out to be the country’s biggest such site, the BBC reported.More than 230 skeletons have now been found at the grave in the former war zone, up from about 90 in August. The remains of 96 people were discovered in 2014 at a site in another part of Mannar – adjacent to Thiruketheeswaram, a prominent Hindu temple.But four years on there’s still no clarity in that case either, about who was killed and by whom. (Colombo Gazette) “We have excavated more than 230 skeletons so far,” said Professor Raj Somadeva, a forensic archaeologist from the University of Kelaniya near Colombo who leads the team at the site. “According to my experience this is the largest mass grave ever excavated.”He said that apart from the human remains, the archaeologists had also found porcelain, ceramic and metal objects, in addition to some jewellery worn by the victims.“The bones are scattered and [it’s] very difficult to trace the stature of the bodies,” Prof Somadeva told the BBC. “And some bones were missing…it’s chaotic.” The town of Mannar is dominated by ethnic minority Tamils and community leaders says hundreds of people from the region went missing during the decades-long conflict between Sri Lankan security forces and Tamil Tiger rebels. read more

Termtime holidays Government launches last ditch attempt to defend ban

first_imgJon Platt appealed against a fine for taking his daughter on holiday to Disneyland Florida during term-time Lee Peckham, a partner at Roach Pittis solicitors firm, who is representing Mr Pitt in the Supreme Court, said: “Our hope is that they will uphold the High Court decision which we felt was correct.”A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “We have been notified of the Supreme Court’s decision to give the Isle of Wight Council permission to appeal. We will now work with the Isle of Wight to consider the next steps.“Our position remains that children should not be taken out of school without good reason. That is why we have tightened the rules and are supporting schools and local authorities to use their powers to tackle unauthorised absence.” Jon Platt appealed against a fine for taking his daughter on holiday to Disneyland Florida during term-timeCredit:Marsaili McGrath “If they want to clarify the law, the correct way to do this is through the parliament, not through the courts,” he said.“But they don’t have the courage or courage or conviction to do that. They don’t even have the support of their own MPs on it.“They will never get it through parliament so they are trying to get the Supreme Court to do it. They are relying on the judiciary to do something that is politically toxic.”The Telegraph understands that the Supreme Court documents passed to Mr Platt’s solicitors showed that the Supreme Court was considering making a protected costs order, meaning he would potentially be immune from incurring any financial loss as a result of the case.He went on: “This will cause real distress to parents across the country. Any parents planning to take children out of school one day early for a Christmas holiday will now worry they have committed a criminal offence.”Mr Platt added that he has “huge confidence” that the Supreme Court will find in his favour. “I am sure they will see through the nonsense,” he said. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Official figures show that 7.6 per cent of pupils missed at least half a day because of a family holiday in the autumn and spring terms of the 2015-16 academic year.That was up from 7.2 per cent the year before. The figures include holidays approved by head teachers as well as those that were unauthorised.Mr Platt said that he has used money from a crowdfunding page – originally set up to pay his legal fees – to fund a solicitor to represent parents who are being prosecuted by local councils over term-time holidays.So far all six cases have been successfully fought against local councils in Suffolk, Swindon and Blackpool, with solicitors using the same arguments that were used in his High Court case. Jon Platt won his term-time holiday challenge at the High CourtCredit:Matthew Chattle/REX/Shutterstock Jon Platt who appealed a fine for taking his children to Florida during term time Jon Platt won his term-time holiday challenge at the High Court In May, the High Court ruled in favour of Mr Platt, 44, who argued he should have the right to take his daughter away without permission from her school because no evidence could be produced that she had failed to attend school “regularly”.Mr Platt was fined by Isle of Wight council after he took his family on the holiday, which included a visit to Walt Disney World, without permission from his child’s school, but the decision was overturned by magistrates. The council appealed against the decision but it was upheld at the High Court.Following the High Court decision, Schools Minister Nick Gibb told schools to ignore the ruling as teaching unions said the ruling had created “confusion” about their statutory obligations.Figures from the DfE show that the proportion of pupils missing school for family holidays has risen to a five-year high despite the ban, which was bought in by Michael Gove in 2013. The Government has launched a last-ditch attempt to defend its ban on term-time holidays,  as Supreme Court justices  grant a local council permission to appeal against a landmark ruling. Earlier this year the High Court ruled that it is not illegal to remove a child from school as long as they have a good attendance record, in a decision that was hailed as a “victory for common sense”.However, the Supreme Court announced on Wednesday that the Isle of Wight Council – backed by the Department for Education (DfE) which will foot the legal bill – has permission to appeal the ruling.Businessman Jon Platt, who has vowed to fight the case to the end, told The Telegraph that he finds it “staggering” that the Government is going through with an appeal. Jon Platt who appealed a fine for taking his children to Florida during term time If they want to clarify the law, the correct way to do this is through the parliament, not through the courtsJon Plattslast_img read more