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Alarm over Sri Lanka reinstating major accused of journalist murder

AFP  |  Colombo 

An international rights group Thursday expressed alarm over the army's decision to reinstate an accused of high-profile attacks against journalists, including the of a senior

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said reinstating created new threats for the media in Sri Lanka, which is currently under a state of emergency following the terror attacks.

Bulathwatte was arrested in 2017 in connection with a string of attacks against journalists during the former regime of strongman and is currently on bail.

However, army last week told a that Bulathwatte has been reinstated to boost the battle against local jihadists following the April 21 bombings in which 258 people died.

"Promoting to active duty an who has been implicated in the killing of one and the torture of two others severely undermines Sri Lanka's claim that it is fighting impunity for crimes against journalists," said Steven

was stabbed to death by members of a military intelligence unit in January 2009. Court records have named Bulathwatte as the key suspect.

The CPJ's said reinstating Bulathwatte within the intelligence setup would create "new threats to journalists in Sri Lanka, who are not safe to do their jobs".

Sri Lanka's war-time military has accused the then Gotabhaya Rajapakse, brother of the former president, of running a secret unit used to target journalists and dissidents, including Wickrematunge.

Gotabhaya, who is a US citizen, has denied involvement, but faces civil action in the United States, where a case has been filed by the slain editor's daughter.

Wickrematunge had accused the of taking kickbacks in arms purchases, including a deal to buy used jet fighters, and was due to testify against him in court when he was killed.

Mahinda Rajapakse, from 2005-15, and several members of his family are under investigation for alleged large-scale fraud and murder during his presidency.

All deny any wrongdoing and in turn accuse the current government of a political vendetta.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, May 16 2019. 15:56 IST