BBC News – Sri Lanka charges moderate monk critical of anti-Muslim violence

Wataraka Vijitha Thero (seated right) has seen press conferences disrupted Sri Lankan police have charged a moderate Buddhist monk with falsely alleging he was abducted and assaulted.

Wataraka Vijitha Thero was found tied up and wounded on Friday and arrested on his discharge from hospital.

Police accuse him of changing his account of what happened and allege he injured himself.

The monk is a vocal critic of the hard-line Sinhalese Buddhist Brigade, whose rally in a southern town triggered deadly anti-Muslim riots this month.

Four people were killed in the violence which came after a rally by firebrand monk Gnanasara Thero who leads the Buddhist Brigade (BBS).

The BBC’s Charles Haviland in Colombo says Wataraka Vijitha Thero had become a voice of reconciliation at a time when extremist monks are inciting racial hatred.

On being discharged from hospital he was arrested and brought before a judge who remanded him in custody for a week.

The monk, who has shared a platform with Muslim and other minority leaders, says he has been subjected to character assassination and jailed while an extremist monk remains free.

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