Sri Lanka clears Tamil editor over rebel air attacks

A Sri Lankan court on Friday released a Tamil newspaper editor who had been detained over alleged links to Tamil Tiger air attacks in the capital, an official said.

Nadesapillai Vidyatharan, who edits the Sudar Oli daily, was detained in February under anti-terrorism laws, but police told the Colombo Fort Magistrate Gihan Pilapitiya that there was no evidence to proceed against him.

“The magistrate ordered his immediate release following a report from the police saying they did not have any evidence against him,” a court official said.

Police initially said he had been “abducted by unidentified gunmen” on February 26, but later admitted he was arrested and under investigation for alleged links with the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

He was also accused of coordinating a Tiger air attack in the capital on February 20.

Another ethnic Tamil journalist, JS Tissainayagam, is still being held under anti-terrorism laws after more than a year for writing about civilians caught in fighting between troops and Tiger rebels.

Under Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act, suspects can in theory be held indefinitely without charge. Investigators are only obliged to renew the detention by way of informing a court every three months.

In January the government said nine journalists had been killed and another 27 assaulted over the past three years, while independent activists say more than a dozen journalists have been killed.

— Sapa-AFP

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