Sri Lanka exhumes body of slain Lasantha Wickrematunge

The remains of a newspaper editor who was killed seven years ago has been exhumed as part of a new probe into his death.

    A police officer prepares to take part in the exhumation of Wickrematunge's body [Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters]
    A police officer prepares to take part in the exhumation of Wickrematunge's body [Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters]

    The remains of a newspaper editor who was killed seven years ago during the last stages of Sri Lanka's civil war has been exhumed as part of a new investigation into his death, according to officials.

    Lasantha Wickrematunge, editor of the Sunday Leader newspaper, was killed by unidentified gunmen while driving to work in the capital Colombo in January 2009.

    He was an investigative journalist who wrote about government corruption and a sharp critic of the then-government's alleged human rights violations during the long-running conflict with the island's Tamil rebels that ended in 2009.

    IN-DEPTH: Beyond the beach - Sri Lanka, 5 years on

    Sri Lankan journalists struggle to gain press freedom

    Wickrematunge's exhumation took place on Tuesday under a court order after police investigators sought permission for a new examination due to contradictory medical and post mortem examination reports, said Athula S Ranagala, a lawyer representing his family's interests.

    The officer who carried out the autopsy had said the death occurred due to gunshot wounds, while the surgeon who operated on the editor before he died had said the wounds were not from bullets.

    Ranagala said police also wanted to identify the type of weapon used to kill Wickrematunge.

    A number of journalists were killed, reported as missing after being abducted by government paramilitaries, or beaten up under former President Mahinda Rajapaksa's administration. No one has been convicted.

    READ MORE: The scars of Sri Lanka's civil war

    The new administration elected last year has reopened the investigation into Wickrematunge's killing, which sparked an international outcry and shone a spotlight on allegations of deadly violence directed against the media.

    In a pre-written editorial published posthumously, Wickrematunge had said it will be the government that would murder him.

    "When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me," wrote Wickrematunga, who endured years of harassment and intimidation for his work, in the article published in The Guardian and The New Yorker.

    An army intelligence officer was arrested in July in connection with the killing.

    Frederica Jansz: Sri Lanka's media crackdown

    SOURCE: News Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    From Zimbabwe to England: A story of war, home and identity

    The country I saw as home, my parents saw as oppressors

    What happens when you reject the identity your parents fought for and embrace that of those they fought against?

    Becoming Ocean: When you and the world are drowning

    Becoming Ocean: When you and the world are drowning

    One woman shares the story of her life with polycystic kidney disease and sees parallels with the plight of the planet.

    The evening death came for me: My journey with PTSD

    The evening death came for me: My journey with PTSD

    On a gorgeous Florida evening, a truck crashed into me. As I lay in intensive care, I learned who had been driving it.