[ Killing of Nadaraja Raviraj too will be re-investigated]
Colombo: Sri Lanka’s new government will reinvestigate high-profile assassinations including those of a newspaper editor and politicians that were alleged to have had state backing during the previous administration, a minister said Wednesday.
The killings of Lasantha Wickrematunge, editor of the Sunday Leader newspaper, Tamil lawmakers Joseph Pararajasingham and Nadaraja Raviraj, and then-highways minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle will be re-examined, cabinet minister Rajitha Senaratne told reporters.
“We have got all the information and arrests will be made. We know how it was done and who are responsible,” Senaratne said.
The lawmakers were critics of then-president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s conduct in the military campaign against separatist Tamil Tiger rebels.
Pararajasingham was shot dead at a Christmas midnight service in 2005 while Raviraj was shot dead the following year in his car. The government then blamed the killings on the Tamil Tiger rebels, but human rights groups suspected the involvement of government paramilitaries.
A suicide bomber blew up Fernandopulle as he arrived to open a marathon race in 2008. Though suicide bombings were a hallmark of the Tamil rebels, there were suspicions of a government hand.
Wickrematunge was a harsh critic of Rajapaksa’s and was killed inside a high security area while driving to the office in January 2009. He wrote an editorial, which was published posthumously, saying the government would kill him one day.
The original investigative cases were heard for years without conclusion.
Sri Lankan soldiers crushed the Tamil Tigers in May 2009, ending the rebels’ 25-year campaign for an independent state for ethnic minority Tamils. The UN has estimated between 80,000 to 100,000 people were killed but the actual number is believed to be much higher