The Colombo High Court on Monday acquitted the North Eastern Monthly magazine publisher Vetrivail Jaseeharan and his fiancée who were charged under the Emergency Regulations and the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

On August 31, senior journalist J.S. Tissainayagam was convicted and sentenced to 20 years rigorous imprisonment by the High Court for writing articles published in the same magazine.

Arrested by the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) in March 2008, Mr. Jaseeharan was charged with printing, publishing and distributing the magazine during June 1, 2006 to June 1, 2007, while his fiancée V. Valarmathy was charged for aiding and abetting the crime.

High Court Judge Kumudini Wickremasinghe while acquitting the two suspects on an application made by the Attorney-General also said the trial held so far had not found any evidence against the second suspect Ms. Valarmathy.

Mr. Tissainayagam was recently chosen as the first winner of the Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism by the Global Media Forum and the U.S. branch of Reporters Without Borders.

In her order, Ms. Justice Wickremasinghe said so far only a voir dire inquiry was conducted to ascertain whether the alleged confession made by Mr. Jaseeharan was done voluntarily.

Mr. Jaseeharan had stated in his petition that on March 6, several officers from the TID arrived at his printing press and took him to his house at Kotahena. They searched the house and arrested him and Ms. Valarmathy.

Following the arrest, Mr. Tissainayagam of Outreach.sl.com Website went to the TID the same day and informed them that as a colleague he could meet Mr. Jaseeharan. This was followed by the questioning, arrest and detention of Mr. Tissainayagam by the TID.

Separately, Army Chief Jagath Jayasuriya on Tuesday said Army de-miners had cleared over 40 million sq. km

Delivering keynote address at a workshop here, Lieutenant-General Jayasuriya urged the international community to assist the de-mining work by supplying more equipment and training more Army personnel for such work.

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