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Minister indicted on charges of assaulting journalists

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ media release:

Sri Lankan Minister Indicted on Charges of Assaulting Journalists

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes an indictment issued by the High Court in Colombo, Sri Lanka, against Labour Minister Mervyn Silva and three others accused of alleged violence against journalists.

However, the IFJ joins its affiliate, the Free Media Movement (FMM), in calling for the Minister to be stood down from his position until the conclusion of the case.

According to the FMM, Silva is indicted on nine counts of unlawful assembly, mischief, robbery and assault involving Sirasa TV journalists at Peliyagoda on August 4.

The others similarly accused are Dulan Hettiarachchi, Prasanna Ranaweera and Nihal Chandrawansa (alias Manchi Nihal).

One charge relates to the alleged confiscation of videotapes from Sirasa TV journalists Waruna Sampath and Saliya Ranawaka as they reported on a community event.

The remaining charges concern allegations that the four stole money from the journalists, damaged the journalists' cameras and assaulted Sampath.

"The IFJ is pleased that the allegations against Mervyn Silva will be dealt with through the legal system," IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

"However, such serious charges against a Minister of the Government require that he be stood down from his ministerial position while the case is being dealt with by the courts."

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide.

Updates the Ranawaka and Sampath cases: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/95928

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