Landmark journalists' rights trial beginsPosted Dec 17 2008
Senior Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainayagam will stand trial in the Colombo High Court for terrorism charges brought against him by the Sri Lankan government.
Tissainayagam, who works for the North Eastern Monthly magazine, will defend himself against a series of charges that concern the printing, publishing and distribution of the magazine between June 2006 and June 2007. The charges, which were filed under Sri Lanka’s 1979 Prevention of Terrorism act and 2006 Emergency Regulations Act, include writing to discredit the government, inciting ethnic and racial disharmony and aiding and abetting terrorist organizations.
The Terrorist Investigation Division of the Sri Lankan police force initially arrested Tissainayagam on March 7. He subsequently spent more than five months in prison awaiting charges before a formal indictment was issued Aug. 25.
IPI has called the trial a landmark case in the history of Sri Lankan press freedom. The Prevention of Terrorism Act was initially adopted as a temporary measure, and this is the first time a journalist or media outlet has been charged with a crime under the act, IFJ reports.
A representative of the International Commission of Jurists will attend the trial as an independent legal observer, according to IPI.