An international rights group Thursday expressed alarm over the Sri Lanka army's decision to reinstate an intelligence officer accused of high-profile attacks against journalists, including the assassination of a senior editor.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said reinstating major Prabath Bulathwatte created new threats for the media in Sri Lanka, which is currently under a state of emergency following the Easter terror attacks.
However, army commander Mahesh Senanayake last week told a local television network 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 intelligence officer who has been implicated in the killing of one journalist and the torture of two others severely undermines Sri Lanka's claim that it is fighting impunity for crimes against journalists," said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler.
The CPJ's Butler 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 commander Sarath Fonseka has accused the then defence secretary 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.
Mahinda Rajapakse, president 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.)