age to be ascertained through jaw bones and dental evidence
- LTTE attack on SLN Base in Galle
Was one of the alleged suicide bombers who attacked
the naval camp at Galle below 18 years of age?
This is what forensic pathologists along with
dental surgeons are now attempting to ascertain by checking out
the jaw bones and dental evidence available.
The Sunday Times learns that usually the third
molars (wisdom teeth), four in all, erupt when a person is between
19 and 25 years but in the case of one of the bodies recovered after
the abortive Galle attack, the person does not have a single erupted
“As there are suspicions that he may be
below 18, we are in the process of cleaning the jaw bones, after
which we will refer them to a dental surgeon for an opinion,”
said Dr. Clifford Perera, Lecturer at the Department of Forensic
Medicine, Ruhuna Medical Faculty who is working with the JMO’s
Office of the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital.
|Remnants of a suicide kit worn by one of the
The mandible and maxilla (lower and upper jaws)
would have to be X-rayed, he said, adding, “Presumably, this
person is less than 18, not a small child but maybe close to 18.”
Four bodies of the alleged suicide bombers were
recovered from the sea near the pier of the naval camp on October
19 and two more from the same location on October 20, while the
seventh body was found in the sea near the Galle Fort and the last
one at Gintota. Although at the magisterial inquiry it was ordered
that the bodies be kept for a week for possible identification,
due to decomposition and logistics, a request to the Magistrate
to allow the postmortem examination had been granted.
Thereafter, full autopsies on four were done by
Karapitiya’s Consultant Judicial Medical Officer Dr. Mahinda
Hettiarachchi and the other four by Dr. Perera last Sunday, October
22. After retaining specimens for further investigation, the bodies
were due to be handed over to the ICRC on October 23, but as no
relative or group had indicated an interest in accepting them, the
remains were buried at the Dadella cemetery, close to Galle.
“Such postmortems on alleged suicide cadres
are a rare occurrence in the south and this maybe the first time
that we were able to carry out a detailed examination on complete
bodies,” said Dr. Perera when contacted by The Sunday Times.
All eight bodies were of males and were bloated
and decomposed, according to him, with the facial features disfigured
beyond identification. Forensic evidence shows that all eight died
of blast injuries and not firearm (gunshot) wounds. “Three
bodies were headless, with a fourth having only the lower part of
the body, the upper-half missing. In these, the age-determination
was impossible because the teeth which enable experts to find out
the age range were missing,” he said.
In the other four, the teeth indicated that three
of the males were over 18 years of age. Usually all those over 18
should have 32 teeth including four wisdom teeth, explained Dr.
The last body recovered from Gintota had no injuries
below the neck. There was only a head injury caused by shrapnel.
The skull was fractured, along with brain damage.
The teeth and lower and upper jaws will have to
be examined and the latter also X-rayed by dental surgeons to verify
whether this person was below 18, said Dr. Perera adding that this
would be possible only by mid-week because they have to clean the
bones, which was a laborious process. The wisdom teeth, if about
to erupt, would show when the jaw bones are X’rayed.
All the bodies, except the one which had only
the lower limbs, had sleeveless, grayish-black T-shirts. They had
black shorts or full black pants.
A piece of metal, found embedded in the flesh
on the forearm of one, had the number 0011 on it along with four
Tamil letters. “The metal-tag may have been tied to the forearm
but got embedded in the flesh during the blast,” Dr. Perera
“Currently there is a ‘Scene of Crime
Lab’ at the Galle Police Station. The officers who have been
trained there were also involved in the Post-mortem examination.”