Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has defended the conduct of the military during fighting at the end of the country’s protracted civil war. He was speaking at a huge military festival in Colombo to mark the two-year anniversary of the government’s defeat of the Tamil Tiger rebels. A UN panel of experts recently accused both sides of war crimes during the last days of the conflict in 2009. The president rejected calls for an independent international inquiry. The BBC’s Charles Haviland in Colombo said that it was a defiant speech from a president who still garners great public support from the war victory.