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Lankan President orders probe into death threats to scribes

Last Updated: Thursday, October 29, 2009 - 19:54

Colombo: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thursday ordered the police to investigate the death threats received by the editor and another journalist of a newspaper, known for taking anti-government stances.
The Sunday Leader`s editor-in-chief Frederica Jansz and its news editor Munza Mushtaq, received hand-written death threats by post last week.

The paper`s founding editor Lasantha Wickramatunga was gunned down near his office in January this year. The case is currently in the court.

The President ordered police "to carry out a most thorough investigation into the recent death threats" received by the two journalists, an official statement said.

This followed representation about the threat to President Rajapaksa by Frederica Jansz, the Presidential secretariat said in a statement.

The threatening letters were received by the Sunday Leader office after the newspaper reported on the Channel 4 video, showing Sri Lankan Armymen executing rebels.

The two letters were identical, written in red ink and the statement said they appeared to have been posted on October 21, 2009.

"Coincidentally, the late Lasantha Wickrematunge, founder editor-in-chief of The Sunday Leader was sent a similar missive — also written in red ink — in December last year, three weeks before he was murdered," the newspaper had said in the article.

On November 21, 2008, unidentified men had entered the press room of the Sunday Leader and its affiliated papers and set it on fire, damaging printing machines and copies of newspapers.

The Sunday Leader has been critical of the government and its handling of the internally displaced persons following the defeat of the Tamil Tigers.

"This newspaper has consistently in the entire 15 years of its existence come under attack," the paper said in a front page story following the latest threats received by its journalists.

"We have been burnt, bombed, sealed, harassed and threatened, culminating in January this year with the brutal killing of Lasantha Wickrematunge," it said.

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, October 29, 2009 - 19:54

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