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Sri Lanka’s controversial monk faces prospect of jail time

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s highly controversial Buddhist monk,  Galagodaatte Gnanasara, was facing the prospect of up to two years in jail Thursday after he was found guilty of two counts of criminal conduct  by the Homagama Magistrate.

Sentencing was put off till June 14, but the two counts under the penal code carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison, an unspecified fine and or both. This is the first time that the monk faces the prospect of actually going to jail.

The magistrate found guilty of intimidating Sandya Eknaligoda in January 2016 when she was in court to hear the proceedings of her husband’s disappearance. Military intelligence officers stand accused of abducting Prageeth Eknaligoda in January 2010, two days before the presidential election.

The monk had used abusive language at Sandya and created a massive din at the court house prompting the then judge to file a contempt of court case against Ven. Gnanasara in the Colombo High Court. That case is still pending.

He had been accused of instigating hate crimes against Muslims and was wanted by police last year in connection with a spate attacks against the minority community.

Despite intimidation and a vilification campaign, Sandya Eknaligoda has been pursuing justice for the disappearance of husband , a cartoonist critical of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa and his administration.  He was abducted  two days before the 2010 election.

Several military intelligence officers have been arrested in connection with his disappearance but all have since been released on bail. Police told court that they had evidence that the military intelligence abducted  Eknaligoda and held him at a camp in the east.

Sandya Eknaligoda’s perseverance for justice earned her an "Internal Women of Courage" award last year from US first lady Melania Trump.

Monk  Gnanasara was in court Thursday, but remained silent when the guilty verdict was read out.  His   BBS organisation has denied allegations it was behind riots against Muslims in 2017 and 2014 that left four people dead.

The monk maintains close ties with Wirathu, an extremist monk in Mandalay whose hate speech has galvanised religious tensions in Myanmar.





Wirathu visited Sri Lanka as a guest of Gnanasara shortly after the 2014 violence in Sri Lanka’s tourist resort of Aluthgama.  (COLOMBO, May 24, 2018)

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