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Journalist stabbed for covering illegal sand mining; FMM alleges police reluctant to take action

(FMM/IFEX) - The following is a 16 January 2008 FMM press release:

Journalist stabbed for covering illegal sand mining

16 January 2008, Colombo - FMM expresses its serious concern and disappointment at the inability of the Sri Lankan Police to arrest the perpetrators who stabbed Bingiriya provincial journalist Mr. Victor Somaweera, although six days have elapsed since the incident.

The complaint made to the Bingiriya police station by Mr. Victor Somaweera says that he was stabbed and threatened by an individual who pointed a pistol at his head on 10 January 2008. He was admitted to Bingiriya Hospital on the same day for the injuries sustained on account of this incident. The journalist has identified the perpetrators and in his statement provided all the necessary information to arrest them. The FMM understands that these alleged perpetrators have strong connections to those who control illegal river sand mining. It is a matter of public record that Somaweera has exposed this illegal activity in his reports recently, which we believe was the motive for the threats and attack.

We note with regret that though the officer in charge of the Bingiriya police station when contacted promised to arrest the suspects, there has not been a single person arrested in this regard to date. It is obvious to the FMM that the police are reluctant to take any action against the illegal sand miners because of their political and financial clout.

Unfortunately this is another attack on media in what is already a sordid record of the inability of the Sri Lankan Police and relevant authorities to check the killings, abductions, assaults, intimidation and threats against journalists. It is also another indicator of the culture of impunity that is growing daily.

Expressing our grave concern, we call upon the government and the Police to arrest the suspects and produce them in a court of law without any further delay.

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