Monk jailed for spreading fear

UNCERTAIN FUTURE: Galagodaatte Gnanasara

CONTROVERSIAL BUDDHIST PRIEST FACES PRISON IN SRI LANKA A RADICAL Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka has been found guilty of criminal intimidation, the first time the notorious extrem­ist has faced the prospect of jail. Galagodaatte Gnanasara, who has been accused of hate crimes against Muslims, was convicted of two counts of harassing and intimidating a woman whose husband was abducted in 2010 by state forces. A magistrate in Homagama town released the firebrand monk on bail pending his sentencing on June 14. Each count carries a maximum jail term of two years and an unspecified fine, or both. The court heard that Gnanasar used abusive language and in­sulted Sandya Eknaligoda, whose cartoonist husband was abducted by military intelligence in 2010. Eknaligoda has campaigned to find out what happened to her husband, whose cartoons lam­pooned former strongman presi­dent Mahinda Rajapakse. Several members of military in­telligence were arrested in connec­tion with his disappearance but all have since been released on bail. Gnanasar had accused Eknali­goda of supporting Tamil extrem­ists and bringing the military into disrepute. “This is not a personal victory for me, but a vindication for many thousands who had suf­fered as a result of this monk’s behaviour,” Eknaligoda said. Eknaligoda’s perseverance earned her an “Internal Women of Courage” award last year from US first lady Melania Trump. Saffron-robed Gnanasara was in court, but remained silent when the guilty verdict was read out. His spokesman said the monk was not making any comment. The controversial priest was on the run for a month last year as police pursued him in connec­tion with a string of hate attacks against Muslims. He later surrendered to police and was granted bail. Gnanasara’s Buddhist Force, or BBS, has denied allegations it was behind riots against Muslims in 2017 and 2014 that left four people dead. Gnanasara…

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