World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

Sri Lanka: Wickramatunge Killers Remain Unpunished

Wickramatunge Killers Remain Unpunished In Sri Lanka

The International Federation of Journalists notes with deep anger and sorrow, that a full year after the daylight murder of Lasantha Wickramatunge in a busy Colombo street, there has been little credible progress in the investigation into an event that caused worldwide outrage.

Speaking to the IFJ, Lasantha’s brother, Lal Wickramatunge, chairman of the Leader group of publications, recounts a story of apathy and indifference.

“There have been hearings of the case every two weeks,” he says, “but no evidence of any progress in identifying the guilty.”

On January 7, a day before the one year anniversary of Wickramatunge’s murder, the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the Sri Lankan police reported that the cause of Lasantha’s death was a head injury inflicted by a sharp weapon and not a gunshot wound as previously believed.

The IFJ regrets that a basic detail, essential for the murder investigation, has only now been unambiguously clarified, despite repeated requests from Wickramatunge’s family that the full forensic report into the murder be placed before the court.

The IFJ observes that the course of the investigation runs contrary to the assurances held out from the highest level of the Sri Lankan government, notably the announcement by President Mahinda Rajapakse on January 27 last year in response to worldwide outrage, that a breakthrough in the investigations was imminent.

Two days after this assurance by President Rajapakse, police arrested two taxi drivers in Colombo. One was released soon afterwards. The sole detainee today, identified as B. Sugatha Perera, can be held guilty of no crime more serious than stealing a mobile phone from Wickramatunge’s person, perhaps as he was being transferred to hospital, grievously wounded on January 8 last year.

The IFJ notes that at a hearing of the case in November, a lawyer representing the Wickramatunge family expressed dissatisfaction with the investigation and asked for a judicial direction transferring the case from the jurisdiction of the local police to the CID, which is a specialised agency of the Sri Lankan police. On December 10, the investigations were formally handed over to the CID on a directive from Sri Lanka’s top police official, Inspector-General Victor Perera.

In effect, the case remains where it was when the preliminary inquest into the murder was held. Wickramatunge’s widow, Sonali Samarasinghe, had at that time asked that the investigation be handed over to CID, assisted if possible by international forensic experts. Her request, made within a week of the murder, was reiterated at a February 18 hearing. And on March 15, Sonali Samarasinghe addressed a letter to Sri Lanka’s President, reminding him of numerous public assurances he and his ministers had held out, that justice would be done.

“In a long history of tension between the media community and authorities in Sri Lanka, Lasantha’s murder was a clear turning point”, IFJ General Secretary, Aidan White said. “It led to an enveloping mood of terror among Sri Lanka’s journalists, compelling many of them to leave the country.”

“With peace now being restored to Sri Lanka after a quarter century long civil war, we expect the Government to credibly address all the abuses of the past in a spirit of transparency and accountability. Restoring the freedom and autonomy of the media, which were gravely imperilled through the years of conflict, would be a necessary part of the process of national reconciliation. The Lasantha Wickramatunge murder is a test case in this respect”, said Whit

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: Zimbabwe - Meet The New Bosses

At 75, Mnangagwa is not exactly what you’d call a new broom. As many observers have pointed out, his track record has been one of unswerving dedication to Mugabe ever since the days of anti-colonial insurgency... To these guys, things had to change in Zimbabwe, so that things could remain the same. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: Is This Guy The World’s Most Dangerous Thirtysomething?

Saudi Arabia has long been regarded as a pillar of stability in the Middle East, and is the essential caterer to the West’s fossil fuel needs. It is also the country that gave us Osama Bin Laden, al Qaeda, and 15 of the 19 terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks... More>>

ALSO:

Non-Binding Postal Vote: Australia Says Yes To Same Sex Marriage

Binoy Kampmark: Out of 150 federal seats, 133 registered affirmative totals in returning their response to the question “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”. More>>

ALSO:

Bonn Climate Change Conference: Protecting Health In Small Island States

The vision is that, by 2030, all Small Island Developing States will have health systems that are resilient to climate change and countries around the world will be reducing their carbon emissions both to protect the most vulnerable from climate risks and deliver large health benefits in carbon-emitting countries. More>>

ALSO: