Sri Lanka army chief "responsible for missing files on disappeared journalist"

Commander of the Sri Lanka military is under pressure to probe his spy network to locate missing military records on a journalist abducted and disappeared eight years ago.

Prageeth Ekneligoda  last seen on 24 January 2010 in the capital, a few days before the presidential election, had been abducted allegedly by military spies.

Shocked by a recent claim by the army chief that files on the case have gone missing, wife of Prageeth is calling for an investigation.

"If the files are destroyed, it is the commander's responsibility to conduct a thorough investigation and take legal action against officers who have got rid of evidence," Sandya Ekneligoda told JDS.

"We were not in charge of files with the military. If records with the military intelligence have been destroyed, it is clearly their work."

Investigators had earlier informed courts that members of military intelligence have taken Prageeth to an army camp in the north central town of Giritale, 215 kilometers away from Colombo.

Not practical

Sri Lanka army commander said last week that it is not "practical" for  records on the abduction of the journalist to last this long "if the military intelligence was intelligent".

"If someone is involved in this, if they are aware of an investigation, if it is the intelligence unit, aren't they intelligent?" Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake told the BBC.

In an attempt to deny his responsibility for the absence of vital evidence, Lt. Gen. Senanayake said that he was appointed as the head of the military in 2017.

The lawyer representing Sandya says that the army commanders statement is ample proof that Sri Lanka military intelligence abducts people and destroys evidence.

"The statement by the army commander is very serious," Attorney at Law Upul Kumarapperuma told JDS.

"Who is he trying to protect? Aren't they members of the military intelligence who have allegedly abducted a person and made him disappear?"

No progress

Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake says that he has been "restricted" in helping the investigation on the abduction.

Sandya Ekneligoda suspects that military officers suspected of abducting her husband has been given access to military records following their release on bail.

"It is the commanders responsibility to remove restrictions, if any. Which means  that he needs to find out who destroyed the evidence and take action against them."

Following his appointment as the army commander by the present government that came to power on a mandate of good governance, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake pledged to take action against military personnel accused of committing crimes.

However, no progress of any probe against members of the armed forces accused of offences including war crimes and crimes against humanity has been reported so far.




Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  • JDS is the Sri Lankan partner organization of international media rights group, Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The launching of this website was made possible by the EU’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), of which Reporters Without Borders is a beneficiary.