Hiru News, owned by the brother of notorious Duminda Silva, gave scant regard to the request by the family of slain editor Lasantha Wickrematunge and attempted to film the exhumation today by sending across a drone camera to Wickrematunge’s grave site at the Borella General Cemetery.
The incident, resulted in the exhumation process being temporarily suspended in the morning. Although the police launched a search operation, they were however unable to locate the remote control or the person handling it, but the Colombo Telegraph reliably learns that the drone camera was sent by Hiru News.
The media was barred from covering the exhumation following a request from Wickrematunge’s family. However, while most journalists and photographers stood outside the parameters and filmed the event which only showed the officials in attendance, Hiru news, which comes under Asia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), owned by Rayynor Silva attempted to film the exhumation of the slain editor, going against all forms of journalism ethics.
The remains of Wickrematunge has been sent for a fresh autopsy, after the CID told the court early this month that there was inconsistencies in the original report submitted by the then Judicial Medical Officer.
Meanwhile the Free Media Movement has condemned what it calls “irrational action” by Police to bar reporters from witnessing the exhumation of the slain journalist. Issuing a press release before the exhumation was even complete, the FMM said the police had not been given a directive from the Magistrate to keep the media locked out of the cemetery during the exhumation. “The Free Media Movement vehemently condemn the irrational act of the Sri Lanka Police by restricting journalists the chance to report and cover the exhumation of the remains of the former editor Mr. Lasantha Wickrematunge. A prior announcement by the law enforcement agencies of such a restriction had not been notified,” the statement by FMM Convenor Seetha Ranjanee said.
“The Free Media Movement vehemently condemns the act of the Police and emphasise the need to conduct the current investigation unbiased. The Government should initiate a special investigation on the irrational act of the police restricting access to journalists who went to cover an important inquiry of the Lasantha Wickramatunga’s murder investigation,” the statement added.
However lawyers for the family said the media had been kept at a distance from the exhumation site in accordance with a special request from Wickrematunge’s family, especially his children for who were badly shaken by his death seven years ago and did not wish to see images of their father’s remains if pictures of the exhumation were splashed across the local and international press.