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Journalists harassed during Kokkuthoduvai mass grave excavation

The third day of excavation at the Kokkuthoduvai mass grave, conducted on September 8th, took a distressing turn when police officers at the site were observed harassing media personnel, Balanathan Sathees and Vijayaratnam Saravanan, in an apparent attempt to intimidate them.

The two journalists were in the midst of conducting interviews with individuals connected to the mass grave site. As students from the Medical Faculty of the University of Jaffna observed the excavation and exhumation process, Sathees and Saravanan were engaged in conversations with some of these students, seeking to understand their impressions of the mass grave's significance.

During this process, the police informed them that they could not remain in their current location and attempted to forcibly remove them from the site, while the journalists were carrying out their professional duties.

Subsequent to this troubling incident, the police issued a warning to all journalists, instructing them to remain on the far side of the mass grave site. This action appeared to be in contradiction to the assurance previously provided by the Judicial Medical Officer (JMO), appointed as the lead in the excavation by the Mullaitivu Magistrate Court.

The incident was promptly brought to the attention of the Magistrate Court judge, who was present at the site, observing the excavation process. The judge reiterated to the journalists that they were welcome to observe the proceedings from a safe distance, consistent with the practice extended to all other observers.

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