TamilNet editor's murder still unpunished, impunity prevails in Sri Lanka- RSF

[TamilNet, Friday, 28 April 2006, 11:35 GMT]
Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Sri Lanka Free Media Movement (FMM) all voiced outrage on the lack of progress in the investigation into the murder of Dharmaretnam Sivaram and and said "the current serious crisis in Sri Lanka - the result of unacceptable terrorism - in no way justifies the impunity prevailing in the murders of journalists and human rights activists," in a press release issued Friday.

Full text of the release follows:

TamilNet editor’s murder still unpunished after one year

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Sri Lanka Free Media Movement (FMM) all voiced outrage today about the lack of progress in the investigation into the murder a year ago of Tamil journalist Dharmeratnam "Taraki" Sivaram, the editor of the Tamilnet news website and columnist for the Sri Lankan Daily Mirror newspaper.

The arrest of a suspect in June 2005 raised hopes that the case would soon be solved, but the investigators have done virtually nothing since his arrest.

"The current serious crisis in Sri Lanka - the result of unacceptable terrorism - in no way justifies the impunity prevailing in the murders of journalists and human rights activists," the three press freedom organisations said.

"We call on President Mahinda Rajapakse to step up efforts in the investigation into Sivaram’s murder as the state’s credibility in preventing the murders of journalists, especially Tamil journalists, is at stake" they added.

Four men kidnapped Sivaram on April 28, 2005, as he and several friends emerged from a bar a few metres from the Bambalapitya police station. His body was found the next day in the district of Himbulala, near the parliament. He had been beaten and shot in the head.

Arumugam Sri Skandarajan, a former member of a Tamil armed group, was arrested as a suspect on June 13, 2005, near Colombo. He was found in possession of the SIM card from Sivaram’s mobile phone. The police also said they had found a vehicle that may have been used in his abduction. But the witnesses of the abduction later said the detained suspect was not one of the kidnappers and that the car was not the one they had used.

After his arrest, the police virtually abandoned the investigation. Sivaram’s relatives and friends say the instigators and perpetrators could be linked to Tamil paramilitary groups, as Sivaram supported the Tamil nationalists and was outspoken in his criticism of abuses by the security forces and paramilitaries.

During the past year, Tamil language journalists and media workers have been killed, received death threats, physical and psychological threats, been arrested and detained. Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) journalist, Relangi Selvarajah and her husband were shot dead on August 12, 2005, in Bambalapitiya, Colombo.


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