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27 March, 2009

Sonali Wickrematunge's letter to Sri Lanka police chief

The Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong, has forwarded copy of a letter written by Sonali Samarasinghe Wickrematunge, wife of Lasantha Wickrematunge, editor of the Sunday Leader newspaper, who was assassinated on January 8, 2009, to the Inspector-General of Police, Government of Sri Lanka. The letter is reproduced from Ground Views.

Sonali Samarasinghe Wickramatunge
(picture on left) is herself a distinguished journalist. She was a lawyer by profession and practised law for several years before taking to journalism.

Sonali Samarasinghe Wickrematunge
Attorney-at Law & Journalist

15 March2009

Mr. Jayantha Wickremaratna
Inspector General of Police
Police Head Quarters
Colombo 1

Dear Mr. Wickremaratna,


As you are aware, my husband, Mr Lasantha Wickrematunge was murdered on 8 January, 2009. Up to now, no details of the progress of the police inquiry into this murder have been released to the public or been made known to me.

On 28 January 2009, the Hon Keheliya Rambukwella, Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare stated at a media briefing that the government was aware of the identity of the murderers and that the president would make the facts known on 15 February 2009. Mr. Rambukwella’s exact wods, as quoted in the Daily Mirror newspaper of 29 January 2009 were as follows:

"Currently all we can say is that investigations are still ongoing. There is no update and we will not divulge anything now as this could hamper the inquiries. The President has made his decision to reveal to the media on February 15 some very important details behind both the attacks so we will have to wait till then."

This statement has not been contradicted by Mr. Rambukwella or anyone else.

The statements made by senior ministers of the government show unequivocally that he and the president of Sri Lanka are aware of the identity of the killers. However, despite over six weeks having passed since Mr Rambukwella’s statement, no announcement has been made; neither have suspects been named or apprehended.

At the inquest into my husband’s murder on January 15, I requested court to direct and facilitate an independent investigation into the killing with an international team of inquirers and forensic experts. I also requested that the present investigation be handed over to the Criminal Investigations Department.

It has been over two months since my husband was killed and there has still been no credible breakthrough in the investigation. No murder weapon, no suspect, no post mortem report has still been made public.

It is in this context that on the next day of hearing on February 18 my lawyers Mr. M.L.M Ameen PC appearing with Mr. Mizbah Attorney At Law, again requested the Court to hand over the case to the Criminal Investigations Department.

This request was however refused.

As both the present police investigation and any possible CID investigation will in any event come under your purview I request you therefore without delay to record the statement in this regard of the Hon. Keheliya Rambukwella, ascertain the identity of the murderers, 'very important details' of which are admittedly known to both Minister Rambukwella and President Mahinda Rajapakse and take immediate action to apprehend the murderers and bring them to justice.

Thanking you,

Yours faithfully,

Sonali Samarasinghe Wickramatunge
Editor in Chief- The Morning Leader
Consultant Editor - The Sunday Leader
Masters in International Affairs (Australia)
LLB (Hons)(Lon)
Dip in Journalism (Aus) Dip in Journalism ($ri Lanka)
Attorney-at-Law, Commissioner for Oaths

CC: Mr M.L.M, Ameen, President’s Counsel
Mr. Lal Wickrematunge, Chairman Leader Publications Pvt Ltd

An earlier post on the murder of Lasantha Wickramathune

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