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“Never under my command have I ordered any attacks on hospitals or medical facilities during the humanitarian operations that were conducted during the final stages of the war,” he added.

Gen. Silva said he had not been contacted by the U.N. panel.

Gen. Silva’s appointment is in line with a long-standing practice of the Sri Lankan government of appointing high-ranking military officers to diplomatic posts.

A U.N. spokeswoman said the world body has no say in such appointments.

“It is not for the U.N. to tell countries who to appoint to its missions,” said spokeswoman Soung-ah Choi. “Every sovereign state has the right to appoint its own representatives.”

Jaliya Wickramasuriya, Sri Lanka’s ambassador in Washington, described Gen. Silva’s record as exemplary.

“Allegations that he violated the rights of surrendering LTTE officers are unfounded,” Mr. Wickramasuriya said in a written response to questions from The Times.

More than two decades of conflict between the Sri Lankan military and the LTTE, a Tamil separatist group, came to an end in May 2009.

The last few months of fighting were some of the bloodiest. According to some estimates, as many as 40,000 civilians were killed.

In a cable exposed by the website WikiLeaks, U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Patricia Butenis, wrote that the Sri Lankan president, along with the country’s top civilian leadership and Gen. Fonseka are largely responsible for the alleged war crimes.

“There are no examples we know of a regime undertaking wholesale investigations of its own troops or senior officials for war crimes while that regime or government remained in power. In Sri Lanka this is further complicated by the fact that responsibility for many of the alleged crimes rests with the country’s senior civilian and military leadership, including President Rajapaksa and his brothers and opposition candidate General Fonseka,” Ms. Butenis wrote in a Jan. 15 cable.

She cited this as the reason for the slow progress in the investigation of allegations of war crimes.

“The cable makes clear that the allegations pertain to the top leadership,” said Mr. Keenan, adding, “We are not talking about rogue elements, but what was clearly a government policy coming down from top and from the president’s brother and likely the president himself.”

The Sri Lankan foreign ministry said in a statement that it was in the process of obtaining the contents of the leaked cables that pertain to Sri Lanka.

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