COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, July 16 (UPI) -- A Sri Lankan commission says it could not find evidence the country's military was involved in the deaths of 17 French charity workers in 2006.
"The evidence that was laid before us is that not a single witness stated before us that they saw the army around the place at the relevant time," retired Supreme Court Judge Nissanka Udalagama, who headed the commission, told the BBC Sinhala service.
The bodies of the workers with the Action Against Hunger were found in the town of Muttur in the northeastern region of the country, where the charity workers were involved in tsunami relief. All but one of them were ethnic Tamils, the network reported.
Truce monitors in the region blamed the security forces for the deaths but the military denied the accusation, BBC Sinahala said.
The military defeated the Tamil Tigers in May, ending the rebels' 26-year-long rebellion for a separate state for the Tamil-speaking minority.
Keheliya Rambukwella, a spokesman for the defense, had claimed Muttur was under total control of the military at the time.
"We got the army to give evidence," Udalagama was quoted as saying. "The officer in charge of the contingent which came to Muttur from Jaffna gave evidence. He denied Rambukwella's statement. We would have liked to have Rambukwella's evidence, but because of time limits, we were unable to do so."
The BBC reported critics have said Sri Lanka has a long history of failing to prosecute human rights abuses.