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Sri Lanka 17 August 2004

Journalist murdered in Colombo

Reporters Without Borders called today on the Sri Lankan government to immediately investigate the killing of newspaper journalist Kandasamy Iyer Balanadarajah, who has been shot dead in Colombo, and to end the climate of lawlessness and impunity that has targeted the country’s media.

The journalist, better known by his pseudonym Sinna Baia, worked on the Tamil weekly Thinamurasu, and is the second to be murdered in Sri Lanka this year. He was gunned down as he left his home on 16 August by two unidentified men thought to belong to the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) rebel movement.

The worldwide press freedom organisation called on Public Security Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake to see that a "thorough and open" investigation of the killing was made and that the culprits were speedily arrested and punished.

Balanadarajah’s paper is close to the pro-government Tamil group the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) and frequently harassed by the Tamil Tigers. The journalist was also a party member and in charge of media affairs.

Another journalist on the paper, Sadacharalingham Kamalathasan, was shot and wounded on 26 July in Ariyampathi, in the Batticaloa district, 220 km east of Colombo. The Tamil Tigers earlier this year tried to stop distribution of the paper in the eastern part of the country.

Aiyathurai Nadesan, a Tamil journalist with the daily Virakesari Tamil, was shot dead on 31 May.

Reporters Without Borders issued a detailed report on 13 July about threats to journalists in eastern Sri Lanka.

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