Sri Lankan monk guilty of threatening missing journalist's wife

Bodu Bala Sena firebrand Gnanasara Thera is convicted of criminal intimidation within court premises
Sri Lankan monk guilty of threatening missing journalist's wife

Bodu Bala Sena general secretary Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thera was found guilty of criminally intimidating the wife of a missing Sri Lankan journalist. (ucanews.com photo)

Controversial Sri Lankan Buddhist monk Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thera has been found guilty of threatening the wife of missing journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda within court premises.

The monk, who is general secretary of Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist organization Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), was convicted on May 24 of criminally intimidating Sandya Eknaligoda.  

A magistrate in Homagama said the sentence would be passed on June 14.

Gnanasara Thera used bad language to insult Sandya in 2016. He accused her of supporting Tamil extremists and blackening the names of military war heroes.

The monk has been accused of hate speech and hate crimes against Muslims and evangelical Christians in Sri Lanka.

Prageeth Eknaligoda, a well-known political cartoonist and journalist, was abducted in January 2010, two days before a presidential election. He had written several articles that were critical of then president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Sandya was awarded an International Women of Courage Award by the United States last year for her tireless efforts to win justice for her husband.

"I fought for innocent people without keeping silent to get justice for everybody because the monk has hurt several people and some communities," she told ucanews.com after the conviction of Gnanasara Thera.

"He abuses his robe to violate the fundamental rights of the people and takes the law into his own hands to threaten people. We are all equal before the law and no one is superior, so this is justice for violated victims.

"Countries which respect human rights should condemn all his actions in order to discourage extremism."

Sandya, who has made more than 90 court appearances and has supported families of disappeared people, said the court verdict was a victory for all innocent people who had suffered due to the monk's brutal actions.

A Muslim leader who wanted to remain anonymous said Gnanasara Thera had spoken out against the Muslim community on subjects including the hijab, halal, ritualistic food items, the forced conversion of Buddhists to Islam and Muslims' high birth rate.

"During the Rajapaksa regime, Gnanasara Thera made a hate speech in a rally against Muslims in 2014 in Aluthgama. Buddhist mobs later destroyed Muslims' business places, houses and mosques," he said.

The Muslim leader was afraid to reveal his identity after recent attacks on Muslims in Kandy, Ampara and Galle.

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