Tracking the killers of scribes
Posted on March 21st, 2017

Editorial Courtesy The Island

The CID has earned notoriety for its selective efficiency. It has suddenly woken up like Rip Van Winkle after eight long years and made some ‘revelations’ about the 2009 assassination of The Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickrematunge. It has been going hell for leather during the last several months to bring to justice those responsible for some murders under the previous regime.

A special team under the command of the then military intelligence chief killed Lasantha and attacked other journalists, the CID has claimed on the basis of a statement made by former Army Commander Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka. Denying the allegation, Former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has demanded to know why Fonseka had taken no action if he had been aware of the existence of such a team.

Who is telling us the truth?

It boggles one’s mind why the CID had failed, till a team of medical experts exhumed Lasantha’s remains and conducted a second postmortem, to find out the kind of weapon used to kill him. We are now told that a sharp weapon was used in the killing. Police should at least have been able to establish whether shots had been fired by the assassins of Lasantha. That is a task even a rookie cop, who visits a crime scene for the first time, is equal to.

Of what use is a police force incapable of telling injury inflicted on a victim with a sharp instrument from a gunshot wound? There is reason to believe that some police bigwigs were party to a conspiracy to suppress the truth about the Lasantha assassination. The police officers who probed that crime, under the Rajapaksa government, must be made to explain their serious lapses. Were they under political pressure to hush up investigations? Or, did pressure come from some other quarters?

We believe that the CID has been remiss in its duty. It has not yet questioned former UNP MP Joseph Michael Perera. Making a special statement in Parliament in July, 2008, in his capacity as the Chief Opposition Whip, Perera declared that a special team which operated directly under the then Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka, was carrying out attacks on journalists. What has prevented the CID from questioning the former MP so far?

The public as well as the media has a right to know whether Perera, on behalf of the UNP, misled Parliament to gain some political mileage or revealed the truth. Let media rights activists ratchet up pressure on the government to order the CID to question Perera and get to the bottom of it. His statement is far too serious to be ignored. Perhaps, police are wary of opening up a can of worms for their political masters.

As we have pointed out through these columns repeatedly, former Associate Editor of The Nation newspaper, Keith Noyahr, currently living in Australia, is capable of helping identify those responsible for attacks on media persons under the last government. For, he is the only journalist to have survived torture and interrogation at the hands of those who harmed journalists; being a senior journalist, he must have been able to guess from the kind of questions put to him who had really ordered his abduction. Keith will be able to shed more light on the issue.

The yahapalana government, too, has reduced police to a pliable tool to further its interests. In a telephone conversation, which happened to be telecast a few months ago, the IGP promised a minister that police would not arrest a politically connected nilame (lay custodian of a shrine) who had run afoul of the law. So, there is no guarantee that the guardians of the law won’t act likewise in respect of those responsible for attacks on journalists if they have government connections.

It is hoped that the probes into attacks on journalists will help bring the culprits to justice without adding to the ongoing political circuses, which are legion.

One Response to “Tracking the killers of scribes”

  1. Nimal Says:

    People who kill media people should be sought and punished as it disgraces the country.

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