Body of Sri Lankan journalist to be exhumed

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Colombo:The body of a celebrated Sri Lankan journalist gunned down during the civil war in 2009 will be exhumed on Tuesday as part of a fresh investigation into his death, a media report said on Monday.

Lasantha Wickrematunge’s grave in Colombo has been under armed guard since the new autopsy was announced earlier this month, two months after a military intelligence officer was arrested in connection with the killing of the former editor of the Sunday Leader newspaper, the Guardian reported.

According to court documents, investigating authorities requested that Wickrematunge’s body be exhumed again because two separate medical examinations at the time of his death produced contradictory results: one finding he had died due to gunshot injuries, the other finding no evidence of gun wounds at all.

Wickrematunge had foreseen his impending murder and wrote an editorial that was published three days after he was shot dead by gunmen on motorcycles in January 2009.

“When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me,” he wrote, in a 2,500-word piece that was republished by the Guardian and New Yorker magazine.

Directly addressing the then-president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, Wickrematunge predicted an inquiry would swiftly follow his death, “but like all the inquiries you have ordered in the past, nothing will come of this one, too”.

However, Rajapaksa’s successor Maithripala Sirisena on assuming office in January 2015 vowed to find the journalist’s killers.

In March this year, Sirisena appointed a secretary to examine violence against journalists, including Wickrematunga’s murder and the disappearance of Prageeth Ekanaligoda, a cartoonist who was last seen in January 2010.

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