ECONOMYNEXT – The daughter of slain Sri Lanka editor Lasantha Wickremetunga said she will appeal against the decision of a United States court to dismiss her lawsuit against former secretary to the defence ministry Gotabaya Rajapaksa for the assassination of her father.
A statement said the U. S. District Court for the Central District of California granted Rajapaksa’s motion to dismiss Ahimsa Wickrematunge’s lawsuit against him.
“The Court held that it lacks the jurisdiction to consider Wickrematunge’s claims, because, in the Court’s view, Rajapaksa is entitled to common law foreign official immunity for the acts that are alleged—acts of torture, extrajudicial killing, and crimes against humanity,” it said.
“The Court found that these acts were committed in his official capacity as Sri Lanka’s Secretary of Defense.”
The statement said the court made no finding on the actual merits of the allegations against Rajapaksa, which include his alleged responsibility for the extrajudicial killing of Lasantha Wickrematunge and for the Sri Lankan government’s campaign of violence against journalists during Sri Lanka’s civil war.
“This is a disappointing setback in my family’s long fight for justice on behalf of my father, as well as for the movement to end impunity for the killing of journalists in Sri Lanka,” said Ahimsa Wickrematunge.
“An end to impunity is precisely what the Torture Victim Protection Act was designed to provide in cases like this,” said Natalie L. Reid of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, counsel to Ahimsa.
” There is no immunity when government officials act outside their authority to torture and murder journalists. Defendant Rajapaksa, a U.S. citizen, can and must be held accountable in U.S. courts.”