Monday’s release of J. S.
Tissainayagam on bail, maybe things are looking up for the media in
week, a friend in
“The JMO who conducted the post mortem inquiry had revealed Lasantha's death had been caused not due to gunshot injuries, but injuries caused to his head with a sharp weapon. The cause of death as gunshot injuries had apparently been recorded based on entries made by the medical officer who recorded his admission to the hospital.”
It may seem gruesome, but there is great significance in the specifics of how the well-known editor was killed. When CPJ first reported Wickramatunga’s death on January 8, 2009, we quoted The Sunday Leader’s staffers as saying he was killed with guns equipped with silencers. They said that witnesses at the scene—he was killed at around 10 a.m. on a busy road while on his way to work by eight men on four motorcycles—heard no gunshots fired, which they would have surely heard even over the busy traffic noises at the intersection where he had been forced to pull over.
“His assailants bashed in the window of the car before shooting him in the chest and head, according to colleagues and local and international news reports,” we said in our initial alert on the day he was killed.
repeated those assumptions in subsequent alerts and blogs, and it wasn’t until I
Several sources, all of whom insisted on anonymity, told me that Wickramatunga was killed not by gunshots, but by piercing his skull with a “sharp pointed metal rod” and that the other weapons used were pointed wooden poles. Convinced by the sources’ access and integrity, we reported the murder weapon as a metal pole in Failure to Investigate.
The sourcing had been bolstered after I interviewed Tennakoon and his wife in the hospital room where he was recovering from his wounds—Dhammika had also been injured, but not as seriously. They said the four men on two motorcycles who attacked them used wooden and iron poles similar to those described by our sources, who were working from the evidence they had from Wickramatunga’s wounds, not from evidence at the scene of the crime. One of the attackers also stabbed at Upali with a knife, but it was deflected and only nicked his stomach.
The next hearing in Wickramatunga’s case will be on January 21.
This is a two-part blog entry. Tomorrow, I’ll talk about the relevance of these cases to the elections coming up on January 26, and why it is not likely that the anti-media atmosphere that was part of the government’s all-out effort to win the war with Tamil secessionists is not likely to end soon.