By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan
Professor Raj Somadeva, who is in charge of the Mannar mass grave excavation, told Ceylon Today, that thus far only 30 per cent of the excavation has been carried out and that he and his team would be working on the site for another month or so.
Looking at the edges of the pit, he speculated that there were more skeletal remains. “There are more skeletons buried,” he noted.
As of now, the team has unearthed 148 human skeletons out of which 17 were underage children, from the 12X8 metre pit in the Mannar Town, in the Northern Province. He noted that they had stopped excavation recently and had resumed work again only yesterday (01).
“There were some problems that I and the Judicial Medical Officer, Dr. Chaminda Rajapaksa encountered and we halted the excavation for seven days,” he said.
Prof. Somadeva also noted that funding for sending samples of skeletons overseas for testing has to be sorted out.
He noted that they have informed the Ministry of Health of the need for financial assistance.
“We were verbally told by the Office of the Missing Persons that they would fund the laboratory tests overseas but we have not yet been informed about the progress in this regard,” he elaborated.
Prof. Somadeva also said that before sending samples they would have to obtain permission from the Ministry of Justice, the Attorney General’s Department and the relevant Magistrate’s Court.
It would take only two hours to prepare the samples to be sent overseas, noted Prof. Somadeva. He earlier suggested that samples could be sent to Florida in the United States of America where a hi-tech carbon data analysis laboratory is located.