01/10/2018, 15.21
SRI LANKA
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Ceremony in Colombo to remember Lasantha Wickremetunga, the Christian journalist killed in 2009

by Melani Manel Perera

He was shot in broad daylight. The investigations are in the final phase. “Justice need be done not as a favour,” his brother said, but “to prevent a repetition.”

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Lasantha Wickremetunga, the Christian journalist who was shot to death in broad daylight in Colombo in 2009. His murder "was carried out with impunity at a time when apathy reigned amongst the people,” said Lal Wickremetunga, brother of the famous editor of the Sunday Leader newspaper, who had harsh words for former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

In a eulogy read by his daughter Raisa during the commemoration for the ninth anniversary of his death, the family expressed "their disappointment at the government of the progress on the investigations in to his murder in day light".

" At present there is a sense of hopelessness at the manner the present administration is handling investigations,” the statement says.

Lasantha Wickrematunga was killed on 8 January 2009 by two strangers on his way to work. Through his newspaper he had criticised the government for widespread corruption, the war against the Tamil Tigers, and human rights violations.

His murder sparked protests by fellow journalists, media and in public opinion, which accused the government of complicity with the murderers and of threatening freedom of the press in the country.

UNESCO posthumously awarded the Christian journalist the World Press Freedom Prize, which acknowledges those who fight for freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

In his letter, the victim’s brother Lal notes that "Justice need be done not as a favour”, but must “be done to prevent a repetition.” He complains that the perpetrators have not been brought to justice yet and that the investigations “are all but concluded”.

“Failure to bring to justice those responsible for the murder of Lasantha could even open the door to the prime suspect or suspects to be elected President or Prime Minister of our land at a future date. Who knows?"

Meanwhile the investigations appear to be in their final stage. Right after his election in 2015, President Maithripala Sirisena had given his full support to resolving the matter.

Recently Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe reiterated that the authorities were committed to punishing the culprits.

Speaking at the ceremony, Raisa Wickremetunga noted that her uncle was killed in broad daylight, in Colombo, near an Air Force checkpoint, next to a High Security Zone.

Finally, her father’s statement goes on to say, “We remember Lasantha who revolutionised the journalistic landscape of Sri Lanka at a time when none dared. He was brave, committed and resolute in his task to eradicate corruption within the halls of government.”

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