Sri Lanka official denies allegations of torture, rape

Sri Lanka's defense minister denied Tuesday that his country committed torture and rape of suspected rebels, as charged by more than 50 men of the island's Tamil ethnic minority who are seeking political asylum in Europe.

Kapila Waidyaratne called the claims of abuses "baseless and unfounded." He spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday as he attended the U.N. Peacekeeping Defense Ministerial conference in Vancouver, British Columbia.

In his words, "The government of Sri Lanka is for zero tolerance with regard to sexual abuse and so on."

The allegations came in a Nov. 8 report by the AP on the asylum seekers and their claims of being abducted and tortured by Sri Lanka's current government. The Tamils said they were raped, branded or beaten repeatedly.