Bri­tish jour­nal­ist in Sri Lanka croc­o­dile at­tack drowned'

The Free Press Journal - - WORLD - AGEN­CIES

A Bri­tish jour­nal­ist be­lieved to have been at­tacked by a croc­o­dile in Sri Lanka died of drown­ing, po­lice said on Saturday fol­low­ing a post-mortem ex­am­i­na­tion.

The body of 24-year-old Paul McClean, who worked for the Fi­nan­cial Times, was found on Friday in a coastal vil­lage la­goon a day af­ter he went miss­ing.

Bri­tish me­dia re­ports said McClean was hol­i­day­ing in Sri Lanka with friends.

Au­thor­i­ties be­lieve McClean was dragged away by a croc­o­dile af­ter he stepped into the la­goon around 360 kilo­me­tres east of the cap­i­tal Colombo.

A post-mortem ex­am­i­na­tion de­ter­mined that he drowned af­ter be­ing bit­ten on his right leg, with­out con­firm­ing if it was a croc­o­dile that grabbed him, a po­lice of­fi­cial who had ac­cess to the au­topsy re­port told.

"There were six teeth marks of an an­i­mal on his right leg," the of­fi­cial said. "There was no spe­cific men­tion of a croc­o­dile at­tack be­cause the JMO (ju­di­cial med­i­cal of­fi­cer) could not ver­ify it im­me­di­ately." Lo­cal mag­is­trate Mo­hamed Hilmy who vis­ited the coastal vil­lage to­day, or­dered an in­quest to be held on Monday. The FT's man­ag­ing ed­i­tor James La­mont de­scribed him as "a tal­ented, en­er­getic and ded­i­cated young jour­nal­ist".

"Our thoughts are with his fam­ily, friends and loved ones. We are in touch with them, do­ing all we can to help dur­ing this dif­fi­cult time," La­mont said in the pa­per's re­port on his death.

Mar­gari­tis Schi­nas, spokesman for European Com­mis­sion chief Jean-Claude Juncker, said McClean, who had also worked in Brus­sels for the FT, was "well known and well liked".

"He was an ex­tremely tal­ented and ded­i­cated young jour­nal­ist. He had an ex­cep­tional eye for de­tail and never shied away from dif­fi­cult sto­ries," Schi­nas told a daily brief­ing in Brus­sels on Friday. "But above all, Paul was a gen­tle­man and an ab­so­lute plea­sure to work with.

He will be fondly re­mem­bered and greatly missed by all in the spokesper­sons' ser­vice and in the wider Brus­sels com­mu­nity." Croc­o­dile at­tacks are rare in Sri Lanka but ear­lier this month wildlife au­thor­i­ties re­ported that a croc­o­dile had se­ri­ously in­jured a wild ele­phant in the south of the is­land. Dur­ing mon­soon floods in May, au­thor­i­ties warned peo­ple in in­un­dated areas to be­ware of stray croc­o­diles.

Paul McClean

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