German diplomat censured for graveside eulogy in Sri Lanka

German diplomat censured for graveside eulogy in Sri Lanka
Photo: DPA
A German ambassador has been censured by the Sri Lankan government for holding a eulogy for a murdered newspaper editor critical of the island’s government, the Foreign Ministry confirmed on Wednesday.

Diplomat Jürgen Weerth was officially reprimanded by the Foreign Office in Colombo on Monday for his public remarks about Lasantha Wickrematunge.

“Today is a day when one remains speechless,” Weerth said during the service, according to the AFP news agency. “Maybe we should have spoken before this. Today is too late. Today is a day when humanity lost a major voice of truth. But he will live in his work,” he added.

Though Weerth’s speech angered Sri Lanka’s government, the Foreign Ministry in Germany told The Local the ambassador did not overstep his bounds or make a political statement.

“The eulogy was held in the name of the diplomatic corps,” Elmar Eich, spokesperson of the Foreign Office in Berlin told The Local. “The chosen tone was adequate and it was an appropriate sign of solidarity,” he added.

While some have suggested that Sri Lankan officials may have ordered the murder, the country’s President Mahinda Rajapakse has denied any involvement, news agency AFP reported.

Wickrematunge, the editor of the anti-establishment Sunday Leader newspaper, was shot down by unknown gun men on the way to work last Thursday.