Sri Lankan author stabbed ahead of poll

Lasantha Wijeratne’s book, released last week, had criticised Gotabaya Rajapaksa

Published - November 14, 2019 09:35 pm IST - Colombo

Lasantha Wijeratne receiving treatment in a hospital in Galle.

Lasantha Wijeratne receiving treatment in a hospital in Galle.

Armed men stabbed and injured a writer in Sri Lanka on Thursday, a week after he published a book criticising the main Opposition candidate at Saturday’s presidential polls, the police said.

The attackers stormed the home of Lasantha Wijeratne, who released his book Wasteful Development and Corruption last week and gave a copy to ruling party candidate Sajith Premadasa.

“Four men broke into the house and stabbed him in the arm after holding a pistol to his wife’s head,” Mr. Wijeratne’s lawyer Tharaka Nanayakkara told AFP by telephone. “They smashed furniture before escaping.”

The police said they have launched an investigation into the pre-dawn attack in Galle, 115 km south of Colombo, but no arrests had been made. Mr. Nanayakkara said the attackers accused Mr. Wijeratne of harming the campaign of Gotabaya Rajapaksa who is believed to be in a close race with Mr. Premadasa for the top job.

‘Condemn attack’

Mr. Rajapaksa's campaign condemned the attack on the author.

“Some reports on social media attempt to claim this is a politically-motivated attack,” a spokesman for Mr. Rajapaksa’s party said in a statement. “We are a disciplined party... we condemn this attack with contempt.”

‘Highly biased’

The violence came even as Election Commission chairman Mahinda Deshapriya said the campaign had been relatively peaceful compared to previous polls.

However, he said the behaviour of both private and state-controlled television networks had been highly biased, and he hoped to prosecute offenders after the election.

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