A decade after his killing, Lasantha’s daughter seeks justice in the US

Tuesday, 9 April 2019 00:38 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Lasantha Wickrematunge
Gotabaya Rajapaksa

  • Gota served notice at grocery store in Pasadena, LA
  • Civil lawsuit by Lasantha’s daughter seeks compensatory and punitive damages
  • Alleges former Defence Secretary “instigated and authorised” Lasantha’s killing
  • Second civil action lawsuit filed by ITJP on behalf of torture survivor
  • ITJP says it hired private eyes to track Gota’s whereabouts


The daughter of slain Editor of The Sunday Leader Lasantha Wickrematunge has reportedly sued Gota-baya Rajapaksa in a United States court over the murder of her father in January 2009, accusing the former Defence Secretary of instigating and authorising his killing.

The International Truth and Justice Project referred to the lawsuit on behalf of the slain journalist in a news release about a separate civil action case the organisation filed on behalf of a Tamil torture survivor against Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

However, Ahimsa Wickrematunge could not be immediately reached for comment and no further details emerged about the lawsuit. A leaked portion of the purported complaint appearing in several websites indicated that Lasantha Wickrematunge’s daughter was alleging that Gotabaya Rajapaksa had instigated and authorised her father’s murder. 

Ahimsa Wickrema-tunge is the 27-year old daughter of the slain journalist, whose daylight assassination in 2009 sent shockwaves around the world. In a last editorial published widely after his slaying, Lasantha Wickrematunge hinted that he knew who his killers were.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is a US citizen, is currently on holiday in his hometown of Los Angeles, California. He was served notice in the case on Sunday (7 April) night, while at a Trader Joe’s grocery store in LA. He is scheduled to return to Sri Lanka next week. 

The International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) confirmed it had served notice on the former Defence Secretary in the parking lot of Trader Joe’s in Pasadena LA, in a civil action it was bringing against Rajapaksa on behalf of Tamil torture survivor Roy Samathanam.

ITJP is assisted by US law firm Hausfeld, and announced in a news release that it had hired private investigators to track Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s whereabouts in the US. “Notice was also served at the same time in a separate case filed by another organisation on behalf of assassinated journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge,” the press release claimed.

At the time of his murder, Wickrematunge was being sued for defamation by Gotabaya Rajapaksa over a series of exposés in The Sunday Leader about corruption in a multi-million-dollar procurement of MiG-27 aircraft from Ukraine. When he was killed, Wickrematunge was only days away from testifying against Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the defamation case.

Investigators have since discovered substantive evidence linking a special military intelligence unit known as the Tripoli Platoon, led by Major Prabhath Bulathwatte, to Wickrematunge’s murder and several other attacks on high profile media targets, including Keith Noyahr and Upali Tennakoon.

When the CID made a breakthrough in the Lasantha Wickrematunge murder probe in December 2010, linking the assassination to the Tripoli Platoon, Gotabaya Rajapaksa immediately moved to shift the investigation to the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) and ordered the Foreign Secretary to give Major Bulathwatte a diplomatic posting in Thailand.