For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya
‘When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me’
The Sri Lanka government says it was told by British officials that they had evidence to suggest former military chief Sarath Fonseka was involved in the assassination of the editor of Sunday Leader.
Lasantha Wickrametunga was shot dead in Colombo on 08 January, 2009. The attackers were never caught.
In a posthumously published editorial attributed to Lasantha he said, “When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me.”
Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha, a ruling party MP, told BBC Sinhala service that the defence attaché of the British High Commission (BHC) in Colombo “gave a note” that accused then Gen Fonseka of being responsible for the assassination.
But the British authorities have neither denied nor confirmed Prof Wijesinha’s statement.
UK ‘favoured’ Fonseka
A spokesperson at the BHC in Colombo told BBC Sinhala service: “The British High Commission in Colombo would willingly share with the Sri Lankan authorities any evidence it obtained that shed any light on the assassination of the Sunday Leader Editor.”
The UK Government remains impartial during elections in other countries. We did not favour any candidate in the Presidential Elections in Sri Lanka in 2009
Gen Fonseka, commander of the Sri Lanka army under President Mahinda Rajapaksa, during the was later selected as the common presidential candidate by the major opposition parties against Mr Rajapaksa.
“When the election came they (the British HC) took his side and did not provide us with the information,” Prof Wijesinha told BBC Sandeshaya.
But the UK authorities have denied having favoured Gen Fonseka at January 2010 presidential elections.
“The UK Government remains impartial during elections in other countries. We did not favour any candidate in the Presidential Elections in Sri Lanka in 2009,” the BHC spokesperson said.
The US State Department report says that there has been no progress in investigations into the killing of Sunday Leader editor, Lasantha Wickrematunga and the disappearance of LankaeNews journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda.
In response Prof. Wijesinghe admitted that “it is necessary” to properly investigate the assassination but there was what he called a danger of government being accused of “political victimisation” if they pursue the case against Mr Fonseka.
Following a controversial military trial the former military chief is currently serving a jail term for irregularities in military procurements.
“But of course we shouldn’t stop investigations just because we will be accused of political victimisations,” said Prof. Wijesinghe.
The opposition has described the imprisonment of Gen Fonseka, who challenged President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the April 2010 presidential elections, as a political move.
Prof Wijesinha was the former secretary to the ministry of human rights before being appointed as a national list MP, after April 2010 elections, by the president.
He also admitted that there has been no progress in investigations over the disappearance of LankaeNews journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda.
“I think it is mistake from our part that there has been no investigation, of course we must investigate these incidents.”