Journalists Killed  |  Sri Lanka

Lasantha Wickramatunga

The Sunday Leader

January 8, 2009, in an area outside Colombo, Sri Lanka

Courtesy Wickrematunge family

Eight helmeted men on four motorcycles forced Wickramatunga's car to the side of a busy street outside Colombo and beat him with iron bars and wooden poles. He died in a local hospital a few hours later.

Wickramatunga, editor-in-chief of the weekly The Sunday Leader, was a prominent senior Sri Lankan journalist known for his critical reporting on the government. According to his brother, Lal Wickramatunga, chairman of the paper's parent company, Leader Publications, the editor had received anonymous death threats for months.

Lasantha Wickramatunga's wife, Sonali Samarasinghe-Wickramatunga, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that the couple had been followed by two men on a motorcycle as they ran errands earlier that morning. Samarasinghe-Wickramatunga left Sri Lanka shortly after her husband's death. The couple had married only two weeks before. 

Wickramatunga foresaw his own murder. In an editorial written shortly before his death and published three days after the murder, he said: "Countless journalists have been harassed, threatened, and killed. It has been my honor to belong to all those categories and now especially the last."  


Medium: Print

Job: Editor

Beats Covered: Human Rights, Politics, War

Gender: Male

Local or Foreign: Local

Freelance: No

Type of Death: Murder

Suspected Source of Fire: Government Officials

Impunity: Yes

Taken Captive: No

Tortured: No

Threatened: Yes


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