File photograph: Lasantha Wickrematunge
The murder case of the late senior journalist, Lasantha Wickrematunge was postponed yet again to June 4th 2021, reported News First.
The former editor of Sunday Leader, was critical of the Rajapaksa regime that was in power at the time, and spoke up against the government’s war efforts against the Tamils in the North-East. Wickrematunge was vocal against the abundant occurrence of human rights abuses by the reigning government and was assassinated on January 8th, 2009.
Nearly 12 years after Lasantha’s assassination, his murderers have still not been held to account.
Several reports of current Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s implication in the murder have been brought up. Nishantha Silva, a senior police officer concerned in the murder investigation fled to Switzerland following the Rajapaksas’ return to power in 2019. Shani Abeysekara, the senior official who oversaw inquiries into high profile cases implicating Sri Lankan state and security forces including Lasantha’s assassination was demoted and charged of discrediting the police force following Gotabaya’s return to power.
Last month, Lasantha’s daughter and the family members of a forcibly disappeared person, called for urgent medical care for Abeysekara who tested positive for COVID-19 stating:
“After so many years of stonewalling, Mr. Abeysekara was one of the few impartial police officers who had the courage to seek justice for our families. If every public servant had the backbone, integrity and conviction of Mr. Abeysekara, our loved ones would still be alive today. By doing his job and seeking justice for those we lost, Mr. Abeysekara’s own life is now in danger. We owe a debt of honour to speak on his behalf.”