A top minister has rejected pressure for an international probe into alleged war crimes at the end of Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict, saying the government would “definitely” not allow one.


“Why should we have an internal inquiry? We will object to it … Definitely, we are not going to allow it,” Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, who is President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s brother, told AFP on Saturday.

His comments came after British Prime Minister David Cameron said he would push for an international investigation through the UN human rights council unless the government acted by March to credibly address claims of abuses.

The Rajapaksa regime is enacting its own more limited investigation but denies civilians were killed in the final stages of the war, when government troops routed Tamil Tiger rebels in their last stronghold.

The UN and rights groups say as many as 40,000 civilians may have been killed in the onslaught.

“It is not new, it is not the first time they are saying it,” Basil Rajapaksa said of the pressure for an international inquiry.

Asked about the March deadline for the Sri Lankans to complete their inquiry, the minister rejected talk of a timetable being imposed from outside.

“They can’t give dates. It is not fair. Even Cameron has said we need time. Even in Northern Ireland it took a lot of time,” he said.

Cameron infuriated the government in Colombo by travelling to the war-torn northern Jaffna region on Friday to meet Tamils, hours after a Commonwealth summit began in the capital.

The prime minister said he was moved by the “harrowing” testimony of survivors.

“We understand some of the things he said were aimed at his home constituency,” the minister said, thanking Cameron for attending the summit.

The prime ministers of Canada, India and Mauritius stayed away from Colombo over Sri Lanka’s human rights record.

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Two conservative prime ministers, two very different approaches.


Yesterday, Mr Cameron became the first foreign leader since 1948 to visit the Tamil lands in Sri Lanka’s north, while attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

He’s sounded a warning to Sri Lanka over its current internal investigation into allegations of war crimes.

“Let me be very clear,” Mr Cameron said. “If that investigation is not completed by March then I will use our position on the UN human rights council to work with the UN Human Riights commission and call for a full, credible and independent international inquiry.”

Mr Abbott is also here but has opted for a softer approach.

He told the CHOGM opening ceremony yesterday that leaders had come to Sri Lanka “to praise as much as to judge” the host nation.

Earlier, at a news conference, Mr Abbott said the Australian Government deplored any use of torture.

“But we accept that sometimes in difficult circumstances, difficult things happen. The important thing is to act as quickly as you can to bind up the nation’s wounds.”

Mr Cameron said he agreed with Mr Abbott that the Commonwealth should talk up Sri Lanka’s potential.

“But I think we do that not by gliding over the difficult issues,” he said. “I think it’s right to confront and discuss the difficult issues, the human rights issues, the journalistic freedom issues, the path to reconciliation – it’s important to talk about those things too.”

Prime Minister Abbott has said he praises Sri Lanka for the way it put an end to its 30-year civil war and crushed the Tamil separatist movement.

Three countries’ leaders have boycotted CHOGM this year because of Sri Lanka’s human rights record.

Canada and India pulled out, followed by Mauritius which was to have hosted CHOGM in two years’ time.

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Former Test opener and Western Australia coach Justin Langer believes the revolutionary drop-in wicket at Adelaide Oval needs work before it hosts the second Ashes Test in early December after serving up a record run feast in the Warriors’ Sheffield Shield stalemate with South Australia.


The pitch, rolled out at the historic ground in late September, coughed up well over 1000 runs and produced three centurions across the four-day encounter that culminated in a draw on Saturday.

The visitors finished on 3-202 with a 35-run lead in their second dig after the Redbacks were bowled out on Saturday morning for a whopping 601 – the highest total recorded by South Australia against WA in the Sheffield Shield.

“I know there was a directive at the start of the year to produce better batting friendly wickets (in Australia), but I think that probably went to the extreme,” Langer said.

“I’m certainly not blaming the curator because it’s a new wicket here at Adelaide Oval, but it was probably too flat for a really good game of Shield cricket.

“I’m sure they’ll use this game and the next one to get it right, or certainly a feel for it, for the Test match.”

Langer said the state of the track should take nothing away from the titanic efforts of forgotten man Marcus North, former Redbacks skipper Michael Klinger and axed Test batsman Phil Hughes, who all reached triple figures.

North belted 110 on Wednesday’s opening day to set up the Warriors’ first-innings total of 434 and was unlucky not to register another hundred on Saturday after finishing on 84 not out.

Klinger fired 125 in the hosts’ first innings, but it was Hughes who was the pick of the trio with a monstrous 204-run maiden double ton.

Hughes struck 26 boundaries and set his highest first-class score in a marathon knock that lasted 533 minutes.

“He was very fluid and he hardly played a shot in vain,” Langer said of Hughes’ 22nd first-class ton.

“His statistics are mind-blowing in terms of hundreds and that’s what you want from an Australian player.

“He will be knocking hard (for a Test recall) and his next opportunity will come. No doubt he’s one of the best six, seven or eight batsmen in Australia.”

Langer also praised Ashton Agar, whose meteoric rise in Australian cricket continued with a 93-run effort in the Warriors’ first innings.

“I haven’t seen natural talent like that since (former Australia wicketkeeper) Adam Gilchrist,” he said.

“Ashton’s got the potential to be an outstanding allrounder. You can’t teach what he does, he’s so fluid.”

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Human rights activists have voiced caution over China’s promises to loosen its one-child policy and shut down labour camps, fearing that abuses would still take place in different forms.


Days after a key meeting, the Communist leadership announced on Friday it would allow couples to have two children if one parent is an only child, widening the exemptions from a rule imposed in the late 1970s to control China’s population.

US Representative Chris Smith, who has campaigned for years against China’s one-child policy, said that authorities would still have the power to forbid births by mothers who have two children or are unwed.

“China is facing an implosion demographically and this is about as small of a step as they had to take,” said Smith, a Republican from New Jersey and staunch opponent of abortion.

“The coercive power of the state to dictate that you can have one, or maybe two, children remains unchanged. They need to end coercion and they need to end forced abortions,” Smith said.

China took the decision as its working-age population begins to shrink for the first time in decades and as it copes with a gender imbalance, which threatens instability as society faces the prospect of tens of millions of men incapable of finding opposite-sex partners.

Smith warned that “gullible Westerners” should not rush to praise China’s steps, saying that previous pledges such as a ban on sex-selective abortion have not been carried out.

The United States declined an official reaction to the promised reforms, with State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki saying only that US officials were “looking closely” at China’s announcements.

Chai Ling, a leader of the crushed Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests in 1989 who has since launched the group All Girls Allowed to campaign against the one-child policy, said that women in China were still forced to end pregnancies against their will.

“This is a small step forward, but far from what needs to happen, which is completely abolishing the one-child policy,” she said.

A 22,000-word document by China’s rulers also announced the abolition of the deeply unpopular “re-education through labour” system.

A United Nations report in 2009 estimated that China was holding some 190,000 people in such jails, where they can be sent without a court appearance.

Former inmates say that a main target has been the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement, whose practitioners often face harsh physical and psychological pressure aimed at forcing them to renounce their beliefs.

The Falun Gong organisation said that China has been moving to shut down some labour camps but in some cases have simply moved practitioners to “drug rehabilitation centres” or other jails.

“What this all means, at least for Falun Gong, is that the attempt to abolish the labour camp system is not a reversal in any way of the policy to arbitrarily detain and abuse Falun Gong practitioners around China,” said Levi Browde, a spokesman for the New York-based Falun Dafa Information Center.

Corinna-Barbara Francis, an expert on the labour camps at Amnesty International, said that abolition would be “a big step in the right direction” but that authorities were looking for new ways to punish the same people.

“There is the very real risk that the Chinese authorities will abolish one system of arbitrary detention only to expand the use of others,” she said.

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About 100 supporters of the so-called Arctic 30 have protested in Sydney’s Circular Quay against the detention of the Greenpeace activists in Russia.


Family members and friends of Australian Colin Russell and Sydney resident Alex Harris released 30 white doves to mark 60 days since their arrest.

The 28 activists and two freelance reporters attempted to scale an oil platform operated by Russia’s energy giant Gazprom in September.

Russia’s Investigative Committee has announced it will apply for a three-month extension to the detention of the group, which has been transferred from the northern port of Murmansk to a detention centre in Saint Petersburg.

The cousin of Sydney resident Alex Harris says she’s been shocked by the turn of events.

“The last time I saw her before she left I told her to be safe to have fun and this new adventure would change her life,” Gemma Dallyn said.

“Needless to say I didn’t have prison in mind.”

Greenpeace says their crew members are suffering severe weight loss from the harsh conditions.

“[He is] sharing his cell with rats, [he is] very cold and not allowed out for 23 hours a day,” Colin Russell’s wife, Chrissie said.

Mr Russell’s 24-year-old daughter Maddy broke down on Saturday morning as she spoke about not having her father back by Christmas during a support rally near the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

“We’ve had only one call in the whole 60 days since this happened.

“I had a hope in the back of my mind that he would be home in time for Christmas and I don’t know what to make of it now.”

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The abalone diver who incredibly survived a second shark attack has revealed he did not see the great white that tried to bite his head off – but instead recognised the sound of teeth on bone.


Greg Pickering, 55, was diving for abalone off a remote part of Western Australia’s southern coast last month when he was attacked by a suspected great white shark.

It was the second time Mr Pickering had lived through a shark attack, after being bitten by a 1.5 metre bronze whaler while in waters near Cervantes, north of Perth, in 2004 as he was trying to help a friend.

Speaking about his ordeal for the first time, Mr Pickering told the Seven Network’s Sunday Night program about the circumstances of the attack, which left him needing 10 hours of surgery on facial and other wounds.

“I heard the sound, the thrashing sound, of teeth on bone – and I remembered the sound from the last time I was bitten,” Mr Pickering said.

“I thought `that is probably a shark’, but I didn’t see it – I heard the attack.”

The show claims Mr Pickering is now the only man in the world to be attacked by sharks in separate incidents and live to tell the tale.

And the interview will also detail how Mr Pickering used his 40-year diving experience to hold his breath and rise to the surface slowly after the attack, despite the water turning red around him from the blood pouring from his horrific injuries.

A roll of duct tape and a towel was then used to hold Mr Pickering’s shredded face together, as his eight-hour journey to hospital began.

Mr Pickering told reporter Mark Ferguson how he felt he had been spared his life.

“It (the shark) suddenly stopped and let me go – so I have definitely been given another chance,” Mr Pickering said.

“I do believe I have been given a second chance. God has given me a second chance there is no doubt about that.”

Soon after the attack, Mr Pickering’s family expressed their thanks to paramedics, surgeons, doctors and nurses who helped save his life, while Fisheries Department director-general Stuart Smith slapped a kill order on the shark.

But the order was then called off because the shark was not sighted again and was no longer considered a threat to school-holiday campers in the area.

Mr Pickering returned to the area where he was attacked, Poison Creek at Cape Arid National Park, about 180km east of Esperance, to tell his story.

*The interview with Mr Pickering will air on the Seven Network’s Sunday Night at 6.30pm AEDT on Sunday November 17

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Ian Bell, who belted Chris Tremain’s first delivery of the 39th over for six to tie the scores, smashed another boundary three balls later to take the tourists to a winning 151 for three total.


Bell was 33 not out, while Jonathan Trott was on 38, having shared in 50-run partnerships with both Carberry and Bell.

England had earlier bowled the Invitational XI out for 261 with Aaron Finch top-scoring on 59, while Steven Finn and Boyd Rankin took three wickets apiece.

Finn took eight wickets in the match but was particularly expensive in the second innings and the haul may not have done enough for him to take the third seamer spot for the test alongside certain starters James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

The match had been badly affected by rain and the England batsmen accelerated the run rate in the final session with threatening clouds on the horizon after the players were forced to take a lengthy weather break at the tea interval.

Carberry is England’s top-scorer on tour having scored 78 in the opening match in Perth and 153 against Australia ‘A’ in Hobart.

The visitors, however, had indicated the left-handed batsman would open the innings in Brisbane along with skipper Alastair Cook when they dropped Joe Root down the order for the latest match at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

England’s chief concern in the batting department will be with Kevin Pietersen, who has innings of 8, 57 and 6 on tour, though given his pedigree, is almost certain to start the match at the Gabba, which will be his 100th test.

Matt Prior remains the only injury doubt with a calf strain and the wicketkeeper is due to undergo a fitness test on Tuesday to determine his availability for the first test.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by John O’Brien)

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“I can say that an agreement in principle between the coach and the RFU (Russian Football Union) has been reached,” Vitaly Mutko told local media.


The 67-year-old Italian was appointed on a two-year contract in July last year, replacing Dick Advocaat after the Dutchman stood down following the team’s early exit from the Euro 2012 tournament.

Capello quickly moulded the Russians into a competitive, if unspectacular team, and led them to the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil after topping European qualifying Group F ahead of Portugal.

“As far as I know, his lawyer (his youngest son Pier Filippo Capello) will come to Moscow on November 21-22 and everything should be settled,” Mutko said, adding that the Italian was expected to sign a new four-year contract.

“There are several options for the date of the signing of the new agreement but probably everything will be officially formalised after the draw for the World Cup finals (on December 6).”

Capello boasts a remarkable record of success at club level after winning domestic titles with AC Milan, AS Roma, Juventus and Real Madrid and the UEFA Champions League with Milan.

He led England to the 2010 World Cup finals and then helped them qualify for Euro 2012 but resigned a few months before the tournament following a dispute with the English FA.

The Italian will turn 72 in 2018 when Russia will host the global showpiece but Mutko believes Capello’s age would not be an obstacle.

“We cannot lose the momentum and the continuity now,” Mutko added.

(Writing by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by John O’Brien)

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George Bailey is adamant his patchy Sheffield Shield performances will count for little when he makes his Test debut against England next week.


Bailey’s failure to turn starts into big scores since a stunning one-day tour of India continued on Saturday when he made just 16 in the second innings of Tasmania’s 129-run outright loss to Victoria at Bellerive.

The Tigers captain has made Shield scores of 34, 41, 37 and 16 since his return from the subcontinent, where he averaged 95.6 in Australia’s six matches.

“(It’s) frustrating not to get through and get big scores, (but) pleasing to be getting starts and to be feeling really good at the crease,” Bailey told reporters.

” … As a batter you’re always greedy to get more but you still start on zero.

“There’s no real lasting implications either way, whether you get runs or don’t.”

The 31-year-old, who skippered Australia in India, knocked down the door of Test selection with the sheer weight of his one-day runs and his undoubted leadership ability.

But his first-class average remains 38 and plummeted to 18.8 for the 2012/13 season.

Bailey said he had never felt more ready to step up, something he has done at one-day and Twenty20 international level.

“I feel I’m as aware of my game as I’ve ever been so I’m really comfortable with where that’s at, that I’m batting as I bat,” he said.

“That’s one of the things of getting a crack at my age, is you know you’re only going to get one crack at it so there’s no point going out there and trying to bat like anyone else but you.

“That’s a positive I see.”

Test opener Chris Rogers also struggled in the Shield match with scores of three and 11 after coming into it in superb touch.

Allrounder James Faulkner provided the positive for the Ashes squad in Hobart with a fighting 53 that threatened to save the game for Tasmania.

The 23-year-old put on 68 with Tim Paine (30) for the sixth wicket after they had come together at 5-116 with their side chasing an unlikely 337.

“We all know how destructive James Faulkner can be,” said Victorian opener Rob Quiney, who made 82 and 86.

“To get (Paine and Faulkner) within the space of two or three overs, that was the clincher.”

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Watching Shane Watson stretch out at training in Brisbane has not been enough to convince Craig McDermott that the Australian allrounder will bowl in the first Ashes Test.


However, the national bowling coach still likes what he sees ahead of the Gabba Test thanks to what he believes is a much more encouraging sight in the nets – a fired up Mitchell Johnson in full flight.

Watson completed light running drills before another lengthy batting nets session on Saturday as he recovers from a hamstring injury ahead of the Ashes opener starting on Thursday.

He held out hope that he could bowl in Brisbane but would sweat on the opinion of team doctor and former Liverpool physio Peter Brukner who arrived in Brisbane on Saturday.

“He has certainly given me great advice over the last six months especially with my body,” the injury plagued allrounder said.

“I am certainly looking forward to having a chat with him and seeing his perspective.

“I am confident I will be there as a batsman. To play as a bowler would be an ideal scenario.

“From previous experiences I will err on the side of caution.

“But if my body is right to go that’s what I will be doing (bowling).”

However, McDermott appeared to have already made up his mind.

“We will wait until the day before the game to see where he is with his bowling,” he said.

“But he hasn’t bowled so far. To rip him straight into a Test match would be pretty difficult at this stage.”

However, McDermott was unfazed by the prospect of not using Watson in his attack after watching Johnson tear into the Brisbane nets in the past two days.

McDermott was so impressed he hinted the once erratic quick so easily influenced by Barmy Army taunts was likely to be thrown the new ball in his first Test since March.

“I think there’s a good chance he will if he can use it from a swing perspective – 155 kph inswingers are a handful for anyone,” he said.

“And going away to the left-handers he will be tough to play.

“I like where Mitchell is at at the moment from an attitude or head space point of view and his pace and seam position.”

McDermott was coy when asked to compare attacks ahead of the Ashes Test after running the rule over Johnson, Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris at training in Brisbane but rated his as “formidable”.

“I back their ability to knock anyone over,” he said.

“Harry (Harris) is probably statistically the best performing bowler in Australian history.

“Sids (Siddle) is in the top five in the world. You don’t get there by bowling rubbish.

“And this is the best Mitchell has been bowling in a long time – and fast.

“From a balance point of view I couldn’t be happier.”

McDermott did not know what Watson’s likely use as a specialist batsman meant for the selection hopes of fourth seamer James Faulkner or offspinner Nathan Lyon.

“I don’t think you can read into anything,” he said.

“If Faulkner is bowling well and Nathan misses out and vice versa that is a selection … that will pan out over the next few days.”

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