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Probe journalist's murder: Media body

world Updated: Jun 21, 2011 22:59 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

The debate over the actual line of work of a slain woman journalist shown in the Channel 4 documentary might continue but a media rights' organisation has urged an international investigation into the killing, saying that her murder could constitute a war crime.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalist said in a statement on Tuesday that the killing of Issipriya, a television presenter with a Tamil Tiger television and radio channel, was evidence that rights were violated.

"Channel 4 has provided solid evidence that Issipriya was murdered and that a war crime may have been committed," Bob Dietz of the Committee to Protect Journalists said.

The bullet-riddled body of Issipriya was shown alongside men in Sri Lankan army uniform as they executed two naked blindfolded men who had their hands tied behind their backs.

A documentary by Britain's Channel 4, "Sri Lanka's Killing Fields", contained mostly mobile phone footage of what it said were executions of unarmed prisoners in the final days of fighting between the Sri Lankan army (SLA) and separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009.

According to AFP, Issipriya was a popular presenter on a clandestine television station run by the Tamil Tigers in areas they held before its transmitting towers were brought down by air force bombers at the height of fighting.

The Sri Lankan defence ministry, however, claimed that the young woman was a combatant. "Issipriya was born in 1982 in Jaffna and was subsequently recruited by the LTTE and underwent military training in the Vanni. She then served in the LTTE Military Wing and subsequently joined the "Voice of Tigers", the official radio station of the LTTE," the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry added: "It is unfortunate that Channel 4, ignoring evidence of her active involvement in terrorist activities and driving youngsters to this, whitewashes her by claiming that she was just a journalist and not engaged in combat operations due to her health conditions."