Daily World News Digest, 25 August 2015

Sri Lanka arrests army personnel over missing Journalist

Sri Lanka Brief, a news portal from Sri Lanka, reported today that Sri Lanka’s police arrested four army personnel, including two senior officers on Monday, in connection with the disappearance of a dissident cartoonist that triggered international condemnation of the island’s rights record. Two lieutenant colonels, a sergeant and a corporal were arrested following the testimony given by three other suspects already in custody over the abduction of Prageeth Eknaligoda in 2010, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said. Eknaligoda, who contributed to the pro-opposition Lankaenews.com website, did not return home after work in January 2010, two days before the island’s presidential election which was won by Mahinda Rajapakse. The cartoonist was never seen again and his case was raised at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva as well as several others where former strongman Rajapakse’s rights record was severely criticized. Leaked police investigation reports have suggested that Eknaligoda was killed after he was questioned by army personnel about a book he was writing on the Rajapakse family, whose members have been accused of bribery, corruption and even murder. Some 17 journalists and media employees were killed in Sri Lanka during Rajapakse’s regime, which also blocked pro-opposition websites. http://bit.ly/1NG9kme

Trial for 1992 killings in Bosnia and Herzegovina to begin on 14 September

The Oslobođenje newspaper in Bosnia and Herzegovina reported today that the trial of ten former members of the Republika Srpska Army who are charged with the abduction of railway passengers at Štrpci in Eastern Bosnia will begin on 14 September.  The abducted passengers were later killed in the area of Višegrad. The prosecution has charged Luka Dragičević, Boban and Petko Inđić, Obrad and Novak Poluga, Dragan Šekarić , Oliver Krsmanović, Radojica Ristić, Vuk Ratković and Mićo Jovičić for the abduction of 20 passengers from the Belgrade- Bar train on 17 February 1993. After the war, the remains of four victims were found. Remains of the other passengers have not yet been located. http://bit.ly/1KJnjCi

Two drown, five missing as migrants head for Greek island

Reuters reported on 24 August that two people drowned and five were believed missing when a dinghy carrying migrants capsized off the Greek island of Lesbos on Monday, as many hundreds continued to head to Greek territory from nearby Turkey. The Greek coastguard said it had rescued eight people on the northern coast of the island early on Monday, and recovered the bodies of two men. Survivors told authorities that about 15 people were in the inflatable dinghy when it overturned. A search was underway in the area for survivors, a spokesman said. Lesbos, which lies less than 10 km (six miles) from the Turkish coast, has seen thousands of arrivals in recent months, mostly refugees from the Syrian civil war. More than 2,300 people have died this year in attempts to reach Europe by boat, according to the International Organization for Migration, mainly on the much longer crossing from North Africa to Italy. http://reut.rs/1JTgjIw

Mexico disappearances on the rise?

The Latino Post, a US news portal, carried a story on 24 August, saying that about 25,000 people have gone missing in Mexico since 2006, and relatives of the missing persons argue that the government is not doing anything about it. One of the most high-profile cases happened just last year, when 43 students from a rural school in Guerrero were hauled off by the police. Latino Post also reported that more than half of the 25,000 disappearances took place during the administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto, which began in December 2012. http://bit.ly/1MQlv0s

Minister meets families of the missing in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Anadolu Agency reported on 24 August, that Semiha Borovac, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Minister for Human Rights and Refugees, held a meeting with the members and the chairman of the Advisory Board of the country’s Missing Persons Institute (MP) to discuss problems that families of missing persons and their associations in Bosnia and Herzegovina face, including incomplete implementation of the Law on Missing Persons, and issues related to improving the work of the MPI and the functioning of its management structure. Minister Borovac stressed that the missing persons issue is one of the most difficult facing Bosnia and Herzegovina. She said the Ministry will, in accordance with its mandate, try to initiate activities to respond to the issues raised by families of the missing. http://bit.ly/1KJl7e6

How did remains from Srebrenica end up in Serbia?

Vesti, a news portal from Serbia, carried a story on 24 August saying that demography expert Svetlana Radovanović has challenged the methods and findings of the Prosecution experts, especially those about missing from Srebrenica, in the Ratko Mladić trial. Radovanović noted that the Prosecution demography experts included 15 municipalities under the term “Srebrenica“ among which are some from Western Serbia. She said their work was “unprofessional and intellectually unfair“. Radovanović argued that this was done to inflate the number of victims. She highlighted the fact that 29 percent of the missing persons on the list have no specified date of birth, while in the case of 20 percent the place where they went missing is unknown. Prosecution experts estimate that 7,692 persons went missing in total after the fall of Srebrenica. http://bit.ly/1NG89D4

Remains of two Turkish Cypriots uncovered

The Cyprus Mail reported on 24 August that the remains of two Turkish Cypriot men murdered and buried in their car in a charcoal pit outside Kyrenia on Christmas Day 1963 have been uncovered during excavations by the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP). According to a release from the Turkish Cypriot ‘foreign ministry’, Şevket Kadir and İbrahim Nidai were stopped and arrested at a Greek barricade while they were returning to Kyrenia during the intercommunal troubles. They were never seen or heard from again until their remains were found during excavations at Ayios Georgios.  According to official CMP figures, the number of missing Greek Cypriots is 1,508, and Turkish Cypriots 493. The number of identified remains returned to their families stands at 451 Greek Cypriots and 144 Turkish Cypriots. Presidential Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs Fotis Fotiou on Monday said efforts to convince Turkey to cooperate on the issue of missing persons needed to be intensified. http://bit.ly/1hDL9sq

Items in Daily World News Digest are summaries of published reports relevant to the issue of missing persons, compiled by ICMP staff.  These items do not necessarily reflect the position of ICMP.