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Killing of journalist Sampath Lakmal: 25 questioned

COLOMBO: The Police have questioned more than twenty five persons to trace the killer of journalist Sampath Lakmal Silva who was shot dead by unknown gunman at Dehiwela on Satruday.

"We are trying to trace the killer on the information we have received so far", the OIC Dehiwela Ranjith Kottahachchi said declining to comment further.

According to him the killer had used a 9mm pistol to shoot Sampath, a freelance journalist who had contributed to several newspapers and electronic media, covering defence news. He had been shot four times, one in the ear and three to the head. More than 25 persons were questioned but no arrests has been made so far, the OIC said.

Police sources said they were trying to trace two suspected vehicles and the telephone calls the victim received minutes before he set off to meet someone on that fateful night.

Sampath was beleived to have been murdered on Saturday and the police recovered his body on Sunday at Jayawardena Avenue, Karagampitiya, Dehiwela. Three special police teams are now conducting investigations into the murder under the instruction of Colombo South DIG K. P. P. Pathirana.

The Police teams are paying special attention to information obtained from close associates of the deceased, his movements and the people he moved with.

Investigators who visited the "Sath Dina" newspaper office last morning have questioned the newspaper's editor Srilal Priyantha and obtained information relating to his recent writings and had questioned about any known threats to Lakmal's life.

According to the Police, investigations have revealed the names of a large number of persons with whom Lakmal dealt with. Police are trying to trace a person called "Kumara" to whom he had allegedly spoken over the phone on Saturday.

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Condemnations of Sampath's killing

COLOMBO: The Jathika Hela Urumaya in a release under the hand of its General Secretary Ven. Omalpe Sobhitha Thera deeply condoled the demise of veteran journalist Sampath Lakmal Silva and vehemently condemned his assassination by unidentified gunmen. It urges the authorities to divulge the culprits responsible for this heinous act.

Lakmal, from his school days represented the interests of national heritage and patriotism which were dwindling among the Sinhala people and wrote sensitively against terrorism.

He was closely associated with the National Anti-Terrorist Movement and the Sihala Urumaya and took pains to be in contact with security forces to disseminate information relating to the security situation in the country, said the media release.

The abduction and killing of this young journalist is a serious blow on the free media movement and a great loss to the nation. May our sympathies be with his parents and other members of the bereaved family.

May he attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana, the release said.

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Sri Lanka Working Journalists' Association

COLOMBO: The Sri Lanka Working Journalists' Association has vehemently condemned the killing of journalist Sampath Lakmal de Silva and urged relevant authorities to launch a full investigation into the killing and bring the perpetrators to book without delay.

The Association in a release said at a time when there is a danger of the country being dragged into a situation of war reporting again it viewed this killing as a danger signal to media persons in the future. The tragic situation where various factions operating in the country are choosing journalists as their targets is a direct onslaught on the country's democratic process and the people's right for information.

The fact that not a single person responsible for the killings of journalists in recent times had been brought before the law has drawn the serious attention of the Association.

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Journalists for Sri Lanka

COLOMBO: The Journalists for Sri Lanka convener Ruwanthi Kariyawasam, in a release, condemns the assassination of journalist Sampath Lakmal de Silva and urges the Government to initiate an extensive investigation into the murder and bring the perpetrators to book.

Sampath was a freelancer who played a principal role behind the screen to divulge to the world the atrocities and murders of the LTTE terrorism and safeguard the country's security. He wrote extensively about the enormity of the abyss to which the LTTE terrorists were drawing the country.

He disseminated information relating to their activities among other journalists. A few days ago he contributed to a weekend newspaper, an article titled Royal comforts for Prabhakaran's children - canine comfort for children of the Vanni" and also an interview with Karuna Amman, the release reminded. Sampath's assassination is a serious threat to other journalists reporting the security situation in the country.

The Journalists for Sri Lanka earnestly urges the Government to ensure the security of journalists who report on the security situation, the release said.

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Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum

COLOMBO: The Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum (SLMMF) in a release condemns the killing of journalist Sampath Lakmal de Silva.

The message: Killings have become daily occurrences in Sri Lanka which indicates the breaking down of law and order. These killings are just being reported in the media every day, with that the matter ends.

Nobody seems to care about it after that.

During the last few months many journalists have been killed. We feel this is a direct threat to freedom of information and democracy. This situation does not augur well for a democratic country such as Sri Lanka.

Whoever the killer may be, it is the duty of the Government to bring the perpetrator to book. It is not our intention to criticise the Government but it should not leave a suspicion in the mind of people that things have gone out of its hands, the release said.

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