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Sri Lanka 18 October 2004

Family of  journalist Mayilvaganam Nimalarajan demands justice, four years after his murder

Reporters Without Borders urged President Chandrika Kumaratunga to revive an investigation into the murder of Tamil journalist Mayilvaganam Nimalarajan as his family marked the fourth anniversary of his death with a demand for justice.

The BBC World Service journalist was killed at his home in Jaffna in the north of the country on 19 October 2000. After spectacular progress in 2002, both the investigation and the legal procedures have stalled, the worldwide press freedom organisation said. More seriously still, suspects have been released on bail and another has reportedly managed to flee the country.

Reporters Without Borders criticised the failure of the Sri Lankan government to reopen the murder investigation and regretted that the killers have not been tried or punished. It called on the president to ensure justice in the case, as she herself demanded at the time of the murder.

In its appeal to the government, his family, now living in exile, said: "Four years after the murder of Nimalarajan, a courageous journalist who was sensitive to his community’s problems, we are sad to know that his killers have still not been tried. His memory lives on and his family is still traumatised by what happened in Jaffna. (...) Every indication we have is that the pro-government Tamil Party EPDP (Eelam People’s Democratic Party) is implicated in his murder. Why has the investigation stalled. The holding of a trial would be afford huge relief to our family," his father told Reporters Without Borders.

The Jaffna judge in charge of the investigation, R. T. Vignarajah, has received no instructions from the office of the Attorney general even though the final report from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) was handed over in April 2004.

Moreover the CID has never succeeded in questioning one of the suspects, Sebastianpillai Ramesh, better known as "Napoleon". The police appeared not to have taken note for their investigation of cartridge cases from a 9-mm gun and the remains of a grenade found at the scene of the crime. Prints found on a bicycle left near the journalist’s home by the killers have never been analysed.

Finally, four other suspects, all EPDP members, were freed on bail by a court in Vavuniya in the north of the country. They also succeeded in getting the right to report regularly to the police in Vavuniya rather than in Jaffna.

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