- A staff reporter writes
(Lanka-e-News -02.June.2022, 4.30PM) The Supreme Court has revoked a presidential pardon granted by the President for the first time in the history of Sri Lanka. A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court Tueday (May 31) ordered to suspend the 'presidential pardon' granted by President Gotabaya Rajapaksha to Arumadura Lawrence Romelo Duminda Silva alias 'Kudu Duminda' who was sentenced to death by three courts in connection with murdering of four people, including Bharatha Lakshman, in broad daylight.
Supreme Court Judge Yasantha Kodagoda, Preethi Padman Surasena, and Achala Wengappuli issued the landmark order.
Any president cannot illegally grant a pardon by claiming that he became president with 69 million votes. A criminal who has been convicted of murder and sentenced to death can be granted a presidential pardon only if the victims’ family members of the crime he committed in the first place have consented for such a pardon. Second, there must be the consent of the judges who imposed the death penalty. In addition, the Chief Justice, the Attorney General, and the Minister of Justice should be consulted and there should be no objection, as well as reports on the prisoner's existence from prison should be good
President Gotabaya pardoned his best friend, Kudu Dumiya, without any of those consents, as he had publicly said that his words should be government circulars. He not only pardoned but also appointed the culprit to the post of the chairman of the Housing Authority.
It was the President's illegal order that was challenged before the Supreme Court. Sumana Premachandra, the wife of the murder victim Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra, and their daughter Hirunika Premachandra, and three other parties have filed fundamental rights petitions in the Supreme Court, regarding this injustice. Today, the three-judge bench issued an interim injunction in the hearing of the petition. The judges ordered the CID to arrest Kudu Duminda, banned him from traveling abroad and that his passport be handed over to the court.
A High Court judge recently publicly protested in open court against the president's pardon and abolition of the death penalty imposed by the judiciary. Tangalle Precedent High Court Judge R.A.S. Sapuvida broke the tradition of sentencing a man convicted of murder to death on 21st November 2021.
"Before a death sentence is imposed to an accused in a High Court, the lights will be turned off, fans switched off in the open court, and the judge stands up from the seat and delivers the verdict, and thereafter breaks off the pen used to sign the verdict. But today, I do not do any of those traditional chores in open court. The reason for this is that the death sentence of the accused in the murder of Honorable High Court Judge Sarath Ambepitiya has also been upheld by the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, but the sentence has not yet been carried out. In the same way, some of the accused who had been sentenced to death and even confirmed by the Supreme Court have been pardoned and released within the existing legal framework. Accordingly, I will sit down on the bench as in other normal cases, and pronounce the verdict to the accused and sentence him to death.”
Another special point is that even President's Counsel Tirantha Walaliyadda, who appeared for Duminda in the Bharatha Lakshman murder case, opposed the President's pardon to a convicted felon, reversing the death sentence.
However, the media reported that Kudu Duminda had fled the country via Singapore a few weeks ago. Unofficial sources say he has fled to Australia, where his sister lives. However, according to the Supreme Court order, it is required to request from the country where he is hiding to deport him.
A similar petition is being heard in the Supreme Court against the presidential pardon granted to Gnanasara by former President Sirisena. The petition was filed by the Center for Policy Alternatives. Gnanasara has also fled the country as his presidential pardon is likely to be suspended. He has fled the country via Dubai and the country where he is finally hiding is currently unaware. (Gnanasara's mistress and child live in France.)
by (2022-06-02 11:49:40)
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