Colombo: A policeman in Sri Lanka has been arrested and remanded in police custody over the killing of a leading newspaper’s editor, a vocal critic of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, nine years ago, officials said here.
Lasantha Wickrematunga, the founder and editor of the Sunday Leader, was waylaid by some unidentified bike-borne assailants who gunned him down in the Colombo suburb of Ratmalana in January 2009.
Sub Inspector Tissa Sugathapala, the officer in charge (crimes) of the Colombo suburban police station of Mount Lavinia, was accused of concealing and destroying information pertaining to the killing of Wickrematunga.
The sub-inspector was yesterday remanded in two weeks police custody, the officials said.
Wickrematunga was involved in a legal fight with Rajapaksas brother, the then powerful defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
After a decade-long rule of Rajapaksa was ended in 2015, the new government under President Maithripala Sirisena had revived the murder investigation.
Wickrematunga was declared a World Press Freedom Hero of the International Press Institute in 2010.
In his final editorial, which was published in 2009 after his assassination, Wickrematunge wrote, “When finally I am killed, it will be the government that kills me.”
He also wrote that he hoped his murder would not be interpreted as a “defeat of press freedom but as an inspiration”.
Wickrematunga was also critical of defence procurements under Rajapaksa in the war against the The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
His murder is considered among grave incidents of abuse of freedom of media blamed on the Rajapaksa government in Sri Lanka, which during the time was ranked one of the worse places for journalists to work. (PTI)