Army personnel arrested for abducting journalist in Sri Lanka

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins the Free Media Movement (FMM), Sri Lanka, in lauding the Sri Lanka Police for arresting an army officer and two soldiers over the 2008 abduction of and assault on a prominent journalist.

The Crime Investigation Department (CID) interrogated Major Prabath Bulathwatte, Sergeants Duminda Weeraratne and Hemachandra Perera overnight and arrested them on February 20. Additional Magistrate has remanded them till March 3 and has asked the CID to produce them in Courts on February 23.

Keith Noyahr, an associate editor of the English-language weekly The Nation, was abducted and tortured after leaving his office in May 2008. Upon his release after intense advocacy from national and international organizations including FMM, he fled the country with his family fearing for his life. He had written critical stories about the civil war with the rebel Tamil Tigers and commented upon the security situation.

FMM Convener Seetha Ranjanee and Secretary C Dodawatta in a statement, said: “The FMM demands that the government complete investigations in an independent manner, disregarding undue influence. A mere commencement of an investigation is not adequate; the process of delivering justice for the killed, disappeared and assaulted journalists and destroyed media institutions in recent history should be expedited.”

Arrested Major Bulathwattee is also accused in the assassination of Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickramatunge and the assault of Upali Thennakoon of Rivira newspaper.

The IFJ said: “The arrest of three army men in the case of the abduction and torture of journalist Keith Noyahr is a welcome step and a decisive move towards ending the culture of impunity in crimes against journalists in Sri Lanka. The IFJ urges the government and concerned authorities to expedite the completion of a fair investigation into this and other cases to ensure justice to the victimized journalists.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

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