Sunday Leader Tamil journalist files FR petition

[TamilNet, Friday, 23 November 2007, 06:02 GMT]
A Tamil journalist, Arthur Wamanan, working in the Sunday Leader English weekly Thursday filed a Fundamental Rights Violation petition in the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka seeking the court to declare his arrest and detention on October 24 was illegal. On October 24, Mr. Wamanan was taken into custody by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) personnel, based on a telelphone complaint by the Sri Lankan Minister of Enterprise Development following his article exposing Mr. Wijeratna of misappropriating government funds. The CID, knowing that the journalist was a Tamil, treated the journalilst as a "terrorist suspect," the Sunday Leader accused the CID of racism in its editorial.

The petitioner appealed to court to order compensation of 10 million rupees for him from the respondents.

He has cited the Inspector General of Police, Officer –in-Charge of the Wellawatte police, Sri Lankan Minister of Enterprise Development Mano Wijeratna and some others as respondents.

The petitioner was taken into custody on October 24 and detained in police headquarters on hearsay charge of extortion.

The Sunday Leader paper, in a editorial published later, accused that Mr. Wijeratna "invented the allegations to get even with a journalist who had exposed him of misappropriating public funds, but that simply on his word, the CID took Arthur into custody."

The CID, who identified Arthur as a Tamil, "wrote down his statement in Sinhala despite him asking that it should be written down in Tamil or English. They then forced him to sign it. What is more, he was not permitted to have a lawyer present," the paper said.

Few days later, Mr. Wamanan was produced in court and released.

Senior Counsel G.G.Arulpiragasam filed the FR petition on behalf of the petitioner.


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