FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION SRI LANKA

For press freedom by Sunanda Deshapriya

Lasantha murder: International probe urged

On the third death anniversary of a slain newspaper editor his widow has called on the international community to exert pressure on Sri Lanka government to hold an independent investigation into his murder.

Sonali Wickrematunge Samarasinghe, the widow of Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, says the investigation needed “to bring back the rule of law rather than the rule of one family.”

In a detailed statement to the media, Ms Samarasinghe a journalist herself, accuses the government of covering up the murder.

Mr Wickrematunge a journalist critical of the government was shot dead in the suburbs of the capital, on 08 January 2009, while travelling to work.

Death in custody ‘mysterious’

17 soldiers, including seven attached to army intelligence unit, were arrested by the police on suspicion.

Jesudasan may have died of natural courses but the circumstances of his death in custody gave rise to questions and therefore must be independently investigated

A court later released all 17 soldiers.

Another suspect, Pitchai Jesudasan, later died in custody.

Ms Samarasinghe says the death is “mysterious.”

“Jesudasan may have died of natural courses but the circumstances of his death in custody gave rise to questions and therefore must be independently investigated,” says Ms Samarasinghe who is in self-exile in New York.

In the long statement, she also details the alleged lawlessness in Sri Lanka, breakdown of democratic institutions, alleged protection provided by the government to criminals and a series of recent murders, abductions and disappearances.

FMM statement

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has told journalists on numerous occasions that the government knows the perpetrators of the crime and the government has regularly pledged a full investigation.

Describing the current investigation as a “charade,” the Free Media Movement (FMM), has called on the government to investigate all recent killings of journalists, including the killing of Tamilnet editor, Dharmeratnam Sivaram.

The government is also reminded by the FMM of the need for proper investigations into many other incidents against media.

“Specifically the firebomb attack on the Sirasa/MTV studios and the brutal attacks on then Rivira editor Upali Tennakoon and Sri Lanka Working Journalist Secretary Poddala Jayantha, the involuntary disappearance of Prageeth Eknaligoda and numerous other incidents and demands serious, honest and meaningful investigations in these incidents,” said the statement issued by FMM convenor Sunil Jayasekara.

Meanwhile, Lal Wickrematunge, brother of Lasantha speaking to journalists at a memorial held at the Sunday Leader premises said that he has no faith in the investigations conducted by the government.
BBC Sinhala

Information

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