In one incident in February, artillery apparently fired from government positions hit a hospital in the war zone and killed several patients. A doctor denied Wednesday that the attack happened.
Sri Lanka investigating doctors' LTTE ties
Western diplomats have quietly been asking authorities to release the doctors, whose courage under fire was praised by the UN's humanitarian chief, John Holmes. On Wednesday, the doctors expressed optimism that they might be freed. But Sri Lanka's police said they were still under investigation.
"They were working for the LTTE," says police spokesman Ranjith Gunasekara, when asked what crime the men had committed. "We have to wait and see. We have to finish our inquiries."
While the doctors have claimed that they lied under duress from the LTTE, it will be for the courts to rule if this mitigates their actions, says Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona. He dismissed claims that they had been coerced to change their stories.
The doctors got the undivided attention of Sri Lanka's media, which has faced intense pressure to follow the government's line on war coverage. But ethnic divisions are likely to shape responses to their statements, says Jehan Perera, director of the National Peace Council, a nonprofit in Colombo.