The Colombo High Court acquitted today 21 university student activists of 29 charges, including unlawful assembly, causing injury to police officers, and charges under the Public Property Act, following a demonstration held in Colombo on October 14, 2010.

The Inter-University Students’ Federation organised this protest outside the Ministry of Education, demanding the release of a group of student activists attached to Peradeniya University who were imprisoned for booing then Minister of Higher Education S.B. Dissanayake on a campus visit.

Several journalists who were covering the protest were also brutally attacked by the police, and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) had called for immediate disciplinary action against the police officers who assaulted a group of journalists covering the students’ protest.

The police arrested 21 university students, including the then-convener of the Inter-University Students’ Federation, Udul Premarathne. Subsequently, they were indicted by the Attorney General before the Colombo High Court.

Taking into account the insufficient evidence against the accused, High Court Judge Damith Thotawatta decided to acquit the accused of all the charges. Counsel Newman Henry, Asanka Dissanayaka, and Darshana Kuruppu appeared for the accused.


The five journalists injured were: Pradeep Dilrukshan from the Daily Mirror, Bingun Menaka Gamage of Lankadeepa, Sandaruwan Yatikinda of Neth FM, Chamila Karunaratna from Rivira, and Subramaniyam Gunaratnam of Sirasa TV.