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Sri Lanka Exhumes Body of Slain Editor for New Probe

A Sri Lankan police officer stands guard near the grave of Lasantha Wickrematunge, as officers prepare to exhume the remains of the newspaper editor killed seven years ago for a fresh investigation, at a cemetery in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sept. 27, 2016.

The body of a newspaper editor killed seven years ago was exhumed Tuesday for a fresh investigation as Sri Lanka's government looks anew at multiple unsolved killings of journalists under a previous government.

Lasantha Wickrematunge, editor of the Sunday Leader newspaper, was killed while driving to work in January 2009. He was an investigative journalist who wrote about government corruption and a sharp critic of the then-government's alleged human rights violations during a civil war with the ethnic Tamil rebels.

The exhumation took place under a court order after police investigators sought permission for a new examination due to contradictory medical and post-mortem reports, said Athula S Ranagala, a lawyer representing his family's interests. The officer who carried out the autopsy said the death occurred due to gunshot wounds, while the surgeon who operated on the editor before he died said the wounds were not from bullets.

Ranagala said police also wanted to identify the type of weapon used to kill Wickrematunga.

A number of journalists were killed, reported as missing after being abducted by government paramilitaries, or beaten up under former President Mahinda Rajapaksa's administration. No one has been convicted.

In a pre-written editorial published posthumously, Wickrematunge had said it will be the government that would kill him.

The new government elected last year has begun fresh investigations into the unsolved killings of journalists.