The identikit circus (Island Editorial)
Police have released to the media another sketch of a suspect allegedly responsible for killing The Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickrematunga in January 2008. There seems to be no end in sight to the process of identikits being publicised and public assistance sought to apprehend the killers of Lasantha.
There is reason to believe that the government and the police are not so keen to go all out to solve the crime. For, they have stopped short of doing what must be done to ascertain vital information about the killers of journalists, including Lasantha.
Former Rivira editor Upali Tennekoon and his wife Dhammika, who courageously grappled with an armed assailant and saved her husband’s life, in January 2009, came here a few months ago and identified the suspect arrested and produced before court.
Cartoon added by TW from internet
Upali and Dhammika saw the assailant only briefly while struggling for life, but there is a senior journalist who suffered at the hands of a group of abductors for long enough to figure out who had ordered his abduction. In May 2008, the then Associate Editor of The Nation Keith Noyahr was abducted near his home and taken to a hideout where he was tortured and grilled for hours. So, being the experienced journalist that he is Keith must have been able to guess from the kind of questions he was asked and what his abductors discussed among themselves who was behind that operation. Keith is now living in Australia, where he fled, fearing further attacks here. Why the police have not contacted him, requesting his assistance to nab those who harmed journalists is the question.
The government has taken the trouble of tracing some Australian citizens and securing their help to arraign one of its bêtes noires, Udaya Gammanpila, on charges of a financial fraud. It has also launched a worldwide search in a bid to trace its opponents’ offshore accounts. Strangely, that kind of high octane performance is conspicuous by its absence on its part when it comes to investigating the Lasantha assassination.
It is also puzzling why the CID has not yet sought former UNP MP Joseph Michael Perera’s help to bring the killer/s of Lasantha to justice. In 2008, Perera as the then Chief Government Whip, making a special statement in Parliament, called for the arrest of the members of a special army unit which, he said, operated under the then Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka and carried out attacks on journalists. The CID got cracking on the Thajudeen murder and made some high profile arrests. Why has it ignored Perera’s revelation?
The present-day leaders who benefited from Lasantha’s newspaper which promoted their interests should prove that they are not a bunch of hypocritical ingrates by having his assassination properly probed.
We think the police are purposely barking up the wrong tree to have the public believe that they are doing something about the killing of journalists. The Rajapaksa government stood accused of ordering the Lasantha assassination and other attacks on journalists and, therefore, it is only natural that the Joint Opposition is silent on the issue. The UNP is wary of ordering action against the suspects it once named in Parliament as the killers of journalists because they are now within its ranks. The TNA, which leads the ‘pro-government Opposition’, has a history of turning a blind eye to tens of thousands of atrocities committed by the LTTE against civilians and its silence on the killing of journalists is understandable. The JVP also finds it difficult to live down its ugly past and is, therefore, wary of flogging the issue of politically motivated assassinations. The government has media rights groups eating out of its hand; and their bark is worse than their bite!
Police act like a gypsy’s monkey which turns somersaults when its master tugs at the rope tied to its waist and then goes into slumber thereafter. So, the identikit circus, as it were, is likely to go on until other issues crop up and eclipse the ‘investigations’ into the attacks on journalists.