Sri Lanka’s highly controversial Buddhist monk, Galagodaatte Gnanasara, was sentenced to six months in jail Thursday for his criminal conduct outside a court house where he threatened violence against Sandya Eknaligoda.
Gnanasara was found guilty on two counts under the penal code which carried a maximum sentence of two years in prison, an unspecified fine and or both. The Homagama magistrate gave him six months of hard labour (rigorous imprisonment) and fined him 1,500 rupees.
He was also ordered to pay 50,000 rupees as compensation to Sandya Eknaligoda for intimidating her in January 2016 at the Homagama courts during proceedings of her husband’s disappearance.
Military intelligence officers stand accused of abducting Prageeth Eknaligoda in January 2010, two days before the presidential election.
The monk had used abusive language at Sandya and created a massive din at the court house prompting the then judge to file a contempt of court case against Ven. Gnanasara in the Colombo High Court. That case is still pending.
He had been accused of instigating hate crimes against Muslims and was wanted by police last year in connection with a spate attacks against the minority community.
Despite intimidation and a vilification campaign, Sandya Eknaligoda has been pursuing justice for the disappearance of husband , a cartoonist critical of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa and his administration. He was abducted two days before the 2010 election.
Several military intelligence officers have been arrested in connection with his disappearance but all have since been released on bail. Police told court that they had evidence that the military intelligence abducted Eknaligoda and held him at a camp in the east.
Sandya Eknaligoda’s perseverance for justice earned her an “International Women of Courage” award last year from US first lady Melania Trump.
Monk Gnanasara attempted to make a statement after his sentencing, but was ordered to remain silent. His BBS organisation has denied allegations it was behind riots against Muslims in 2017 and 2014 that left four people dead.
The monk maintains close ties with Wirathu, an extremist monk in Mandalay whose hate speech has galvanised religious tensions in Myanmar.
Wirathu visited Sri Lanka as a guest of Gnanasara shortly after the 2014 violence in Sri Lanka’s tourist resort of Aluthgama.