Sri Lanka Po­lice ex­hume jour­nal­ist’s body in mur­der he pre­dicted

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Sri Lankan Po­lice on Tues­day ex­humed the body of a se­nior jour­nal­ist who had pre­dicted just days be­fore his mur­der in 2009 that he would be killed by the gov­ern­ment, mark­ing the lat­est devel­op­ment in a se­ries of probes into for­mer Pres­i­dent Mahinda Ra­japaksa’s ad­min­is­tra­tion. Las­an­tha Wick­re­matunga, an out­spo­ken edi­tor of The Sun­day Leader news­pa­per, of­ten clashed with politi­cians. Ra­japaksa’s brother, then de­fense sec­re­tary Gotabaya Ra­japaksa, had sued him for defama­tion over sto­ries crit­i­cis­ing the coun­try’s civil war and al­leg­ing pro­cure­ment graft.

In his last ed­i­to­rial just be­fore the mur­der, Wick­re­matunga had writ­ten that he had rea­son to be­lieve that at­tacks against the me­dia at the time were in­spired by the gov­ern­ment.

“When fi­nally I am killed, it will be the gov­ern­ment that kills me,” he wrote be­fore three days he was killed. Wick­re­matunga was killed while sit­ting in a car stuck in rush hour traf­fic in a high se­cu­rity zone near the cap­i­tal, Colombo. Hu­man rights groups said the Ra­japaksa regime failed to probe his mur­der. Wick­re­matunga’s death was one of sev­eral high­pro­file killings un­der the Ra­japaksa gov­ern­ment and is one of the many in­ves­ti­ga­tions re-opened by Pres­i­dent Maithri­pala Sirisena into his pre­de­ces­sor’s ad­min­is­tra­tion. Sirisena ousted Ra­japaksa in Jan­uary 2015. Ra­japaksa and sev­eral mem­bers of his fam­ily now face probes into al­leged misappropriation of state re­sources.

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