Sri Lanka Govt denies Fr Jim Brown body claim

Citing a DNA analysis, Sri Lankan authorities have refuted claims that a corpse discovered allegedly in an army bag was that of disappeared priest Fr Jim Brown.

In a report on its website, the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence notes that Ausralian Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need has taken down a story on its website citing a Sri Lankan priest, Fr Marisapillai, who claimed that Fr Brown's body had been identified.

According to the Sri Lankan authorities, the story was "fabricated".

The Ministry of Defence quotes an email from Australian Director of the Aid to the Church in Need, Philip Colignon who says "Thank you for your e-mail pointing out that our ACN News item about Fr Brown is completely wrong. The article was written by John Pontifex a journalist from our UK office. John interviewed Fr Jeyabalan Marisapillai, a close friend of Fr Brown and the information gained from this interview was put out as a news item.

As a result of the information contained in your e-mail the news item has been removed from our website. John has been sent your correspondence and he will further investigate the facts of the matter."

According to the Ministry of Defence, a DNA report issued by the Molecular Medicine lab in the Kelaniya University said the remains were not of Fr Jim Brown or his friend.

The report quotes Sri Lankan authorities as saying that "the Molecular Medicine Unit of the University of Kelaniya, forwarding its finalized DNA analysis report into a human body part found off Pungkudutheevu, has forwarded its report to the Kayts Magistrate.

"According to the DNA analysis, the human remains found are not of either Reverend Jim Brown or his aide Mr Vincent Vimalathas who is also said to have disappeared along with Reverend Brown."

Describing the report as a "complete fabrication", Sri Lankan authorities say that such stories are part of an "orchestrated campaign against Sri Lanka using 'Christian' websites".

Australian catholic website removes news item that claimed father Jim Brown's body parts found in a bag (Lankaweb, 17/6/07)
Australian catholic website removes news item that claimed father Jim Brown's body parts found in a bag (Ministry of Defence Sri Lanka, 17/6/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Jim Brown (Asia Human Rights Commission Hong Kong

Missing Sri Lankan priest's body identified (CathNews, 15/6/07)
Sri Lanka priest in miracle escape (CathNews, 12/9/06)
Sri Lankan priest disappears as civilian toll mounts (CathNews, 25/8/06)
Caritas calls for pressure as Sri Lankan church bombed, schoolgirls killed (CathNews, 17/8/06)
Sri Lanka ceasefire in tatters (CathNews, 11/8/06)
Troops storm Church as Sri Lanka on brink of war (CathNews, 19/6/06)
Caritas calls for urgent mediation in Sri Lanka (CathNews, 27/4/06)

19 Jun 2007