Colombo: The wife of a kidnapped journalist in Sri Lanka is accusing the military of trying to derail a court case in which nine soldiers were charged with the kidnapping and forced disappearance of her husband almost 10 years ago.
Sandya Ekneligoda, who has struggled for years to seek justice for her abducted husband, Prageeth Ekneligoda, said some officers serving in military intelligence “are trying to destroy evidence and intimidate witnesses.”
Prageeth disappeared in 2010 during the presidency of Mahinda Rajapaksa, the brother of the current president Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Prageeth, an analyst and cartoonist, wrote against Rajapaksa’s alleged corruption, nepotism and behavior during a military campaign against Tamil ethnic rebels to end the long civil war in Sri Lanka.
The case did not progress much until Rajapaksa was defeated in the 2015 presidential elections and a new elected government initiated further investigations.
The Rajapaksa brothers returned to power again with the victory of Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the presidential elections last month. They had criticized the investigations of military personnel for alleged crimes against journalists. Gotabaya, during his election campaign, promised to release all imprisoned soldiers after a period of rehabilitation.
Last month, formal charges were filed in the High Court against nine army intelligence officers in connection with the kidnapping of Prageeth. They were released on bail and the case will be resumed on January 20.
Sandya told reporters Tuesday that witnesses include former military. “Let the witnesses tell the truth, what they know and saw without any interference. Let the truth prevail,” he said.
She said some military intelligence officers “are trying to intimidate witnesses through various parties and disturb the court case.
He appealed to President Rajapaksa to advise intelligence officers not to interfere with the case.
“My children and I could achieve justice only if the judicial process is carried out independently,” he said. “This is a crime, don’t let them interfere with court proceedings. If that happens, we will be deprived of justice.”
During the term of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, dozens of journalists were killed, kidnapped and tortured, and some fled the country fearing for their lives. Others were killed or disappeared during the civil war that ended in 2009 with the defeat of the Tamil Tigre rebels.
In some cases, military soldiers were arrested and then released on bail.
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