24 February 1998
Journalist arrested and beaten
(RSF/IFEX) - According to RSF, Pradeep Dharmaratne, a correspondent for the
newspaper "Dinamina", was taken to hospital with back injuries after a harsh
police interrogation. On 16 February 1998, police officers broke down the
door of Dharmaratne's home and beat him violently before taking him to the
police station. The journalist spent the next day in jail, where he was
beaten several times. On 18 February, police officers took the journalist to
a clandestine distillery where he was forced to leave his fingerprints on
several bottles and barrels. On 19 February he appeared before a local
magistrate charged with having ties with traffickers. He was released on
bail. The arrest followed a report by Dharmaratne on the work of an alcohol
trafficking gang, which appeared in "Dinamina" on 10 February.
**This alert contains a new case and updates IFEX alerts dated 16 and 19
This case is the second infringement of press freedom in Sri Lanka in less
than two weeks. Since 12 February, Iqbal Athas, a journalist with the
Colombo "Sunday Times", was threatened at his home by armed men in uniform.
The men, who Athas said were soldiers, apparently assaulted him because of
editorials he had written condemning corruption in the Sri Lankan army.
Send appeals to authorities:asking that the investigations promised by the government into these two
cases be carried out thoroughly, and that the guilty parties to be tried and
reminding them that in the case of Pradeep Dharmaratne, the fact that the
assault was made by police officers should in no way be allowed to obstruct
the investigation procedure
Her Excellency Chandrika Kumaratunga
President of Sri Lanka
Office of the President
Colombo 1, Sri Lanka
Fax: +94 1 44 6657/54 6657/33 3702/33 3703
Please copy appeals to the source if possible.