Norway citizen detained in Sri Lanka for alleged assault on journalists

A Norwegian citizen of Sri Lankan origin is among two in custody for allegedly assaulting two Tamil journalists investigating illegal logging of teak in northeastern Sri Lanka.

25 years old Thishanthan Rajendra from Oslo was sent to remand prison by Mullaitivu District Judge S. Leninkumar.

He and three others are accused of mercilessly beating up journalists Kanapathipillai Kumanan and Shanmugam Thavaseelan, threatening them with death and removing video evidence of illegal logging in a forest reserve.

Police had only managed to arrest the main suspect named Anushan and Rajendran. Journalist fear of a real risk to their lives due to police inaction.

Journalists protest

Tamil journalists in northern Sri Lanka marched on the streets of the Mullaitivu town on 15 October demanding the arrest of two other assailants. In addition to placards bearing slogans they carried twigs to symbolize deforestation.

They also called for action against police and forest officials who are accused of involvement in illegal logging. Their demands in writing was handed over to the government agent (GA), forest authorities and police. The GA and police were gifted with teak saplings while one been planted in front of the Mullaitivu district forest office.

Assistant Superintendent of Police Ruwan Kumarasekara who met the protestors promised to arrest the two other suspects before nightfall. They are still at large.

Political backing

Photographs of the two in custody with the local beat forest officer and a ruling party politician have been circulating in social media giving rise to suspicion that the illegal loggers have strong political backing.

Attorneys at Law Anton Punithnayagam, K. Kanesvaran, Thadchanamoorththi Gangatharan, M.A. Nimzath and P. Sutharsan appearing for the accused argued that the journalists were trespassing on private property.

The two journalists informed court that they were forced into the loggers’ premises, accused of illegal entry and theft while been filmed by the assailants.

S Thananjayan, Kanagaratnam Partheepan, Rujika Niththiyanantharasa and Thushyanthy Sivakumar appeared on behalf of Thavaseelan and Kumanan.

The next court hearing is scheduled for 20 October.



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.