A civil lawsuit has been unsealed by a US federal judge on Monday against former defense secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa seeking damages for his alleged involvement in the killing of Lasantha Wickramatunga, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported on Monday.
According to the CPJ's website, a federal judge of the District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles has unsealed the civil lawsuit on Monday.
The suit had been filed under seal by Ahimsa Wickramatunga, Lasantha Wickramatunga's daughter, on April 4. Although authorities in Sri Lanka have claimed to be investigating the case for years, criminal proceedings have not progressed, according to CPJ reporting.
"For more than 10 years, authorities in Sri Lanka have utterly failed to deliver justice in the brutal killing of Lasantha Wickramatunga, despite a wealth of evidence pointing to perpetrators," said Steven Butler, the Committee to Protect Journalists' Asia program coordinator, from Manila.
"Perhaps successful prosecution of the case in a US court will finally spur authorities in Sri Lanka to pursue the murder as they should have from the start."
The complaint against Rajapaksa describes a broad campaign against journalists during the decade he served as defence secretary, from 2005 to 2015.
Lasantha Wickramatunga was the editor of the Sunday Leader and exposed alleged corruption by Rajapaksa; he was beaten to death on January 9, 2009, allegedly by men who were part of the Tripoli Platoon, operating under Rajapaksa's command, according to the complaint.
The case was filed under seal with no damages specified, and Rajapaksa was served with papers in Los Angeles on April 7, according to the Center for Justice and Accountability, whose lawyers helped prepare the complaint. In January, the center won a $302.5 million judgment against the Syrian Government over the 2012 killing of Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa had not responded to a Twitter direct message sent by the CPJ asking for comment.