Sri Lankan govt under fire as murdered editor buried

January 12, 2009 (AFP) – The funeral of a Sri Lankan newspaper editor and staunch critic of the war on Tamil rebels was held Monday with the island’s government facing allegations of being behind his execution-style murder. Security was tight as thousands of mourners attended a Christian service for Lasantha Wickrematunga at the Assembly of God church in Colombo ahead of a burial ceremony at the Colombo General Cemetery.

Wickrematunga’s Sunday Leader newspaper has been virulently anti-establishment and regularly savaged the government for waging a costly and bloody war against the Tamil Tigers.

Last Thursday he was shot at close range near the capital Colombo by unidentified gunmen.

The attackers escaped even though the murder took place in an area near an airbase where the military has a large security presence.

Sri Lankan opposition parties were united in condemning his murder, with fingers pointed at the government over the killing as well as a string of other recent attacks against the media.

The former executive director of the Commonwealth Press Union, Lindsey Ross, said she did not expect the government to investigate the murder despite pledges by President Mahinda Rajapakse to get the

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