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Journalism A Failed Profession In Sri Lanka

Recent reports in two Sunday newspapers highlighted updated versions of the investigations into the abduction, torture and assault of journalist Keith Noyahr and murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge the late Editor of The Sunday Leader. Keith Noyahr, of the Nation was abducted on his way home on the 22nd of May 2008 and Lasantha Wickrematunge was murdered on the 8th of January 2009.

The tenor of the article in the Sunday Times is to pinpoint two important issues. The first being that Dr Rajitha Senaratne was way off the mark with his facts and the second being the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge continues to be used conveniently for political gain. The intrepid Editor’s murder was due to his knowledge of the inside story of the MiG purchases has also been questioned.The Sunday Times of 15th of April 2018 in an article by the Cafe Spectator refers to Dr Rajitha Senaratne, stating that two Defence Ministers ie. Sri Lankan and Ukrainian, signed the infamous MiG deal. The report goes on to state that the FCID had certified copies of the agreement to purchase the MiG aircraft which were signed between Bellimissa Holdings, a BVI Company and Sri Lanka Air Force with T.S. Lee of DS Alliance from Singapore featuring as a key go between. T.S. Lee through DS Alliance featured in the previous MiG sales to Sri Lanka.
The FCID seemingly has reported to Court through a B report that T.S Lee is considered a suspect in this case. T.S Lee being a businessman is within his rights to sell to any bidder provided the end user certificates are not erroneous. It is the Air Force and by such extension the Defence Ministry of Sri Lanka and the the Government of Sri Lanka that is criminally liable. The Ukraine government is on record that they did not sell any aircraft to the Government of Sri Lanka. This would mean the earlier purchases of MiG were also not Government to Government sales.
Be that as it may, the report in the Sunday Times confines it to showing the two issues but begs further questions. That being to pin the liability not only on Udayanga Weeratunga, who was Ambassador to Russia at the time but on such person who had the ultimate authority to sanction the tainted purchase of MiG aircraft on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka.
It is a publicly known fact that the former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was in office at the time of such deal filed action in the Mt Lavinia Courts, a defamation action against the late Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge and his Sunday Leader claiming a colossal amount. It is also a publicly known fact that the former Secretary of Defence in his evidence in Chief and Cross Examination under oath, stated that the MiG purchases were a Government to Government deal between Sri Lanka and Ukraine. He justified his action in public interviews to the BBC with Chris Morris and in the Hard Talk programme saying he did the “right thing” by filing action and would wish the Sunday Leader to fold up. The two interviews are yet on You Tube.

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