EU condemns shooting of Sri Lankan editor

Sri Lankan Police forming a human chain in parliament to protect the Speaker and enable a vote.

BRUSSELS, January 8, 2009 (AFP) – The European Union condemned Thursday the shooting death of a respected Sri Lankan newspaper editor and expressed concern about media freedoms in the South Asian nation. Wickrematunga, 52, was shot by gunmen on two motorcycles as he drove to work near Colombo. He was rushed to hospital but died after three hours of emergency surgery. Colleagues said he was shot in the chest and head.

“I was deeply shocked to learn about today’s assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunga, the chief editor of Sri Lanka’s Sunday Leader newspaper,” EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said.

“Our concerns about the freedom of the media, already under severe pressure from assaults and intimidation, have been exacerbated by the killing of Lasantha Wickrematunga,” she said in a statement.

She also urged the government in Colombo to introduce “protection mechanisms” to ensure that media workers are kept safe, and take all steps possible to bring his killers to justice.