A decade since Lasantha Wickremetunga’s murder, culprits still roam free

A decade since Lasantha Wickremetunga’s murder, culprits still roam free

Written by Staff Writer

08 Jan, 2019 | 9:19 pm

Colombo (News1st): It has been a decade since one of the darkest days for media freedom in the country. On this day 10 years ago a blatant attack was launched against a man who was an icon of the free media, a man who was feared by the corrupt powers at the time for nothing more than the stroke of his pen.

On 8th January 2009 around 10.25 AM near the Attidiya Model Primary School, well-renowned journalist and editor of the Sunday Leader Lasantha Wickremethunga was attacked. Assailants had followed Lasantha and attacked him on his way to work from home. Although he was immediately admitted to the Kalubowila Teaching Hospital Lasantha Wickramatunga had already left this world.

The brave journalist who never bowed down to the corrupt and powerful had at the time become a challenge to many. The people’s call to bring the perpetrators of this murder to justice has still not been realized by those in charge.

Initially, it was stated that the Lasantha Wickramatunga was shot dead, however when his remains were exhumed and re-examined recently, it was revealed that he was stabbed with a sharp object and that the resulting wounds were the cause of his death

A few months after the murder the Criminal Investigations Department made a revelation on the suspected murderer and arrested a person named Jesudasan in Nuwara Eliya, whose death while in police custody still remains a mystery. Following these unfortunate incidents, the Criminal Investigations Department was removed from the investigations into the murder.

The purported champions of democracy who promised swift justice over the murder of Lasantha Wickramatunga have barely scratched the surface of this attack on the people’s right to free speech. Even though the investigations were handed back to the CID and his remains were exhumed to date there have been no solid leads on who carried out this crime in broad daylight.

Although a number of military and police officers were arrested no facts that could directly connect them to the murder were presented in court. People gathered at the grave of Lasantha Wickremetunge once again today, just as they have done over the past decade, the hope remains the same. Their chants “Justice for Lasantha Wickremetunga” still remains unheard.

Speaking at the memorial a niece of Lasantha Wickramatunda, Raisa Wickramatunga said a decade is a long time to grieve, it is too long to solve a murder and too long to come to terms that no one cares. She added that Lasantha did not die in vain, the foundation he set has brought about change in the political spectrum of Sri Lanka. She noted that it is visible today in the form of an independent judiciary and other commissions.

Meanwhile, the former convener of the Free Media Movement Sunanda Deshapriya noted that those responsible for Lasantha’s death have already been revealed and legal action can be filed based on the evidence uncovered during investigations. He said that when one journalist is murdered another 100 are intimidated, to rid the society of this fear, justice must be served and the criminals must be punished. Deshapriya added that he believes that the politicians want to keep this fear among the public, therefore the ruling class in Sri Lanka do not show any interest in solving the crime.

Meanwhile, an emotional article composed by Ahimsa Wickramatunga the Daughter of Veteran Journalist Lasantha Wickramatunga was published on print media today (January 8). The title of the article read “WHAT THEY DID TO MY FATHER AND WHY THEY DID IT”. Ahimsa Wickramatunga elaborates on the incidents that eventually ended in her father’s murder and the ordeal that she and her family had to go through following the tragedy.

“The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice”
-Martin Luther King –

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