Maithri-Ranil coalition in January 2015 formed a government putting an end to the ten-year rule of Mahinda Rajapaksa. The new government gave many progressive groups in the country hope.
The President and Prime Minister promised to ensure equal rights to all ethnicities through a new constitution and also the establishment of good governance in the country.
Civil organizations, human rights activists, leftist political forces as well as journalists offered their support with the hope of justice for their fellow journalists who were abducted, assaulted and assassinated.
When 44 journalists were murdered during the Rajapaksa regime, both in the North and South, many spoke about acclaimed journalists such as Lasantha Wickremetunga, Prageeth Ekneligoda, Keith Noyahr and Poddala Jayantha on political stages.
Maithripala Sirisena assumed duties as the President on 8th January 2015, six years after the assassination of former The Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickremetunga.
We are writing this on the fourth anniversary of Maithripala Sirisena’s presidency.
“When criminals not linked with politics commit a murder, it is usually investigated without delay and the criminals are sentenced within only a few years. However, due to failure to sentence those who are responsible for Lasantha Wickremetunga’s murder, they might even become the President or Prime Minister of the country in future.”
A female member of the family had quoted Lal Wickremetunga, brother of Lasantha Wickremetunga.
She had made the above statement on the ninth anniversary of Lasantha Wickremetunga’s murder (8th January 2018) expressing disappointment about investigations.
Lasantha Wickremetunga Assassination
On 8th January 2009, former The Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickremetunga was stabbed to death in a high security zone in Ratmalana (Attidiya) while he was driving his car to his office.
After ten years, Sri Lanka Police and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) have not been able to produce the killers of Lasantha Wickremetunga before court.
After the present government came to power in 2015, the CID started investigations to find the killers of Lasantha Wickremetunga; however, even after seven years, investigations have not been finished.
Even though the government stated that the investigation had reached its final stage, many accuse that those statements were made for mere political advantages.
Exhumation of Lasantha’s body
Lasanatha Wickremetunga’s body was exhumed on 27th September 2016.
His body was exhumed following a request made by the CID; Colombo Additional Magistrate Mohammed Mihal oversaw the exhumation.
Attorney Athula S Ranagala had told media that Lasantha Wickremetunga’s body was exhumed due to contradictory causes of death mentioned in the post-mortem report, a report of surgery performed on Lasantha and the government analyst’s report.
Media barred from entering premises
Security had been tightened around the Borella Cemetery and journalists were barred from entering the premises.
However, a private TV channel attempted to take pictures using a drone.
After removing body remains, media were allowed to enter the premises.
Military personnel commits suicide
In October 2016, a former military intelligence officer, who had a note which said that he killed Lasantha Wickremetunga, had allegedly committed suicide.
Army Spokesperson had stated that Sargent Major Ilandarige Edirisinghe Jayamanna, the former army officer who is alleged to have committed suicide, had retired in 2007 after 28 years of service.
No military investigations
The then Army Spokesperson, Brigadier Roshan Seneviratne had stated that there is no need for the army to launch an investigation into the death of the retired army officer
A senior police officer had stated that the body of the army officer was found by a three-wheeler driver, who arrived at his home after he received a call.
In the note, it was further stated that ‘his friend’ Milinda Udalagama, who had been arrested in connection with Lasantha’s murder, is not guilty and therefore must be released.
Protecting those who issued orders
A CID officer said “it can be a strategy to save people who ordered to kill,” said BBC Colombo reporter Azzam Ameen.
Investigations into Lasantha’s murder were initially launched by the Mount Lavinia Police. It was then transferred to the Criminal Investigation Department and Terrorism Investigation Division. After September 2015, it was again given to the CID.
According to the investigations conducted thus far, it is evident who had the motive to kill Lasantha. But the investigations have not been concluded, and therefore, we will have to wait. Because of power-hungry, bloodthirsty characters, the country has lost many things, and they must be answered. Until then, we will stay hopeful.