Nadesan, a veteran Tamil journalist with the national Tamil-language
daily Virakesari, was shot by unidentified assailants in Batticaloa,
a town on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka about 135 miles (216 kilometers)
from the capital, Colombo, according to international news reports
and local journalists.
Nadesan, who had worked at Virakesari for 20 years, was on
his way to work when he was ambushed near a Hindu temple. The assailants
escaped, and no group claimed responsibility.
Nadesan was an award-winning journalist who used the pen name Nellai
G. Nadesan. He also reported for the International Broadcast Group,
a Tamil-language radio station that broadcasts from London.
Violence erupted in Sri Lanka’s eastern region in the weeks before
the murder after the main Tamil rebel group, the Liberation Tigers
of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), launched a military offensive against a breakaway
faction headed by a soldier known as Colonel Karuna. Local journalists
said that Nadesan was sympathetic to the LTTE. The LTTE accused the
Sri Lankan army and members of the breakaway faction of Nadesan’s
murder, according to the pro-LTTE Internet news site Tamil.net.
Nadesan had been harassed and threatened before his death because
he had criticized the government and security forces, according to
CPJ research. On June 17, 2001, a Sri Lankan army officer summoned
Nadesan for an interrogation and threatened the journalist with arrest
unless he ceased reporting about the army.