Lankan monk jailed for six months

A Sri Lankan court on Thursday jailed for six months a Buddhist monk accused of inciting violence against Muslims after finding him guilty of intimidating the wife of a missing journalist, in a case seen as a test of the independence of the judiciary.

By Reuters in Colombo
  • Published 15.06.18
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A guard escorts Buddhist monk Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara after he was sentenced to six months in jail by a magistrate in Homagama, Sri Lanka. (AFP)

Colombo: A Sri Lankan court on Thursday jailed for six months a Buddhist monk accused of inciting violence against Muslims after finding him guilty of intimidating the wife of a missing journalist, in a case seen as a test of the independence of the judiciary.

Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, the secretary general of the hardline Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) or "Buddhist Power Force", was found guilty of having threatened the woman, Sandhya Eknaligoda. "I have done my duty towards the country," Gnanasara told reporters as he boarded the bus taking him to prison. "Why should I regret?"

In 2016, Gnanasara interrupted a court hearing over the abduction of the journalist, Prageeth Eknaligoda, in which military intelligence officials were accused.

He shouted at the judge and lawyers because the military officials had not been allowed bail, and threatened Eknaligoda's wife.

On Thursday, Magistrate Udesh Ranathunga sentenced the monk to two terms of six months in jail, to be served concurrently, as well as a fine of 1,500 rupees, and a payment of 50,000 rupees ($313) as compensation to the journalist's wife.

The judge rejected Gnanasara's request to make a statement after he expressed disagreement with the sentence. He was taken to prison while fellow monks chanted Buddhist scriptures.