06/01/2022, 12.49
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Colombo: Presidential pardon for former MP sentenced to death revoked

by Melani Manel Perera

The order was issued by the Supreme Court after considering three fundamental rights petitions. Duminda Silva had been sentenced to death for the murder of another former MP. His release last year had drawn criticism from civil society.



Colombo (AsiaNews) - Sri Lanka's Supreme Court has ordered the judicial police to arrest Duminda Silva, a former parliamentarian sentenced to death for the murder of former MP Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra in 2011. Last year he had been granted a pardon by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who shortly afterwards appointed him head of the National Housing Development Authority.

The Supreme Court, comprising three judges Preethi Padman Surasena, Yasantha Kodagoda and Achala Wengappuli, issued the order yesterday after considering three petitions, including one filed by Premachandra's wife and daughter challenging the lawfulness of the presidential pardon.

The release of Duminda Silva on 24 June last year had been widely criticised by civil society groups. On the same day, 93 prisoners had been released, including 16 Tamil Tiger fighters.

Lawyer and parliamentarian M. A. Sumanthiran questioned on what basis the president chose Duminda Silva to grant the amnesty when almost 9,000 prisoners remain imprisoned on death row.

President Rajapaksa's decision will cause 'an erosion of the rule of law and a loss of public confidence in the administration of justice', the Sri Lankan Bar Association had commented.

"The Supreme Court should act like this more often," said some citizens speaking to AsiaNews. "We should prevent all these dirty illegal attempts. We should not promote shootings, assassinations, robberies, all these things that destroy human lives," added Nalin and Malathi Gamage, a farming couple. "We are really happy with the Supreme Court's decision."

Silva had been sentenced to death along with two others for the killing of Premachandra, which occurred during a gunfight between rival factions of the same political party in the capital Colombo.

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