May 16, 2005

Buddhist monk ingests poison in Sri Lanka

Duluth News Tribune

Associated Press

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - A monk drank poison and was rushed to a hospital Monday moments after becoming the first Buddhist clergyman to be convicted of the sexual abuse of a child in Sri Lanka, court officials and police said.

Monk Bellana Panniyaloka was found guilty of grave sexual abuse of a 16-year-old girl in 2001 and was given the maximum 20-year penalty, court official N.K. Siripala said.

Soon after the sentence, Panniyaloka drank from a bottle he had concealed in his robes and collapsed, Siripala said. He was rushed to a hospital.

"The priest is in critical condition," said Hector Weerasinghe, director of the ColomboAbuse Tracker Hospital. He said the 55-year-old monk had consumed insecticide.

The priest belongs to a temple in Nugegoda, just outside the capital Colombo, where the victim was a Sunday school student, Siripala said.

Monday's conviction came a day after a senior Buddhist monk was arrested on charges of sexually abusing a teenager in another Sri Lankan temple, officials said.

Posted by kshaw at May 16, 2005 07:08 AM