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Sri Lanka 27 June 2002

Damocles Network - Reporters Without Borders fact-finding mission notes encouraging progress in the investigations into the assassination of journalist Nimalarajan

More than 20 months after journalist Mayilvaganam Nimalarajan was killed in his home in Jaffna (northern Sri Lanka), a fact-finding mission from the Damocles Network, an organisation that combats impunity, represented by Belgian lawyer Luc Walleyn, and Reporters Without Borders, represented by Vincent Brossel, visited Colombo and Jaffna from 18 to 22 June 2002 to investigate progress in the Nimalarajan case.

The mission has been assured by the highest authorities in Sri Lanka, notably Interior Minister John A. E. Amaratunge and Attorny General K. C. Kamalasabeyon, that the government and judiciary are committed to completing the investigations. Within the space of a few days, two people who may have been involved in the murder were questioned and detained by investigators from Jaffna’s Criminal Investigation Department. Wanted notices have been issued for other suspects, some of whom - according to people interviewed by the fact-finding mission - may have left the country.

The mission noted that police investigations had been held up for more than ten months following political pressure from Colombo and Jaffna. The two main suspects are apparently active members of the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) which was at the time a member of President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s government. In spite of repeated requests from the magistrate in Jaffna, police appear to have made no efforts to conduct a serious investigation until the beginning of 2002.

Within a few days, the Damocles Network will be sending recommendations to the appropriate Sri Lankan authorities to ensure that the crime committed against the freelance journalist and BBC stringer, Mr Nimalarajan, does not remain unpunished.

The Damocles Network, an international, European Commission-funded project to combat impunity in crimes against journalists, is closely monitoring progress in the investigations into the murder of Mr Nimalarajan. The organisation envisages, if necessary, returning to Sri Lanka and taking part in the legal proceedings in this affair.


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