The carbon dating results of bone samples obtained from the Mannar mass grave site would be handed over to Sri Lanka by the US laboratory in February 2019, the Office on Missing Persons (OMP) said yesterday.
The OMP said its officials observed the process of handing over six bone samples obtained from the mass grave to Beta Analytics in Miami, Florida on January 25, for radiocarbon dating.
“Following the testing of the samples, the results will be submitted by the laboratory in February 2019 to Sri Lanka. A preliminary combined investigation report including the test results and other findings will be submitted by the investigation team to the Mannar Magistrate’s Court,” it said in a statement.
The six bone samples were handed over by Consultant Judicial Medical Officer Dr. Saminda Rajapaksha who is heading the investigation team at the site. OMP Commissioner Mirak Raheem and two lawyers representing families of the missing and disappeared from Mannar, S. Niranjan and Ranitha Gnanarajah also witnessed the handing over of the bone samples.
The OMP said it took the decision to observe the handing over process in order to ensure the chain of custody, as this is an important on-going case that is under investigation, and to minimise concerns that have been raised in similar instances where human remains from other mass grave sites were sent for carbon dating.
“The OMP sees transparency as an important issue to ensure the confidence of families of the missing and disappeared and the general public, in the investigation of the Mannar mass grave,” it said.
The radio carbon test of the human remains is being carried out under an order made by Mannar Magistrate T. Saravanarajah on January 18 based on a collective decision by the investigation team.
The OMP said the Miami-based Beta Analytics was chosen as it is a recognised and accredited institution that specialises in bomb pulse carbon dating.
“The report from the laboratory, along with results from other examinations carried out by the investigation team headed by Dr. Rajapaksa, will help address key questions, including if these human remains, numbering over 300 skeletons as of January 22 are from one or multiple historical periods,” it said. (Lahiru Pothmulla)