By Thameenah Razeek
Former Parliamentarian Duminda Silva, who was convicted and sentenced to death over the murder of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra, was granted a special Presidential Pardon yesterday (24). Prison Spokesman Chandana Ekanayake said following the Presidential Pardon, Silva was released.
He added that 93 other prisoners, including16 former LTTE cadres, were also pardoned by the President. Initially, Ekanayake denied Silva’s name being on the 93-person list, but then admitted that he was one of the prisoners scheduled to be released yesterday (24).
Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra and his bodyguards were killed in a shooting incident on 8 October 2011, while Silva sustained serious head injuries. On 8 September 2016, the Colombo High Court found Silva and four of his associates guilty and handed down death sentences. He later appealed the decision in Supreme Court, which was subsequently rejected.
The Supreme Court upheld the verdict of the High Court. During the past, when Duminda Silva was imprisoned several factions had submitted written requests to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa seeking his release.
115 Parliamentarians representing the ruling party, Bikkhus and a number of civil organisations had requested the President in writing to take the steps required to release Duminda Silva.
His father had submitted a complaint to the Commission, which inquired into political revenge that steps be taken regarding the harm that had been done to Duminda Silva by jailing him and that he was a victim of a process of political revenge.
The Commission, which focused their attention on Duminda Silva’s father’s complaint, had declared a unanimous verdict that he be exonerated from the indictments filed against him at the Colombo High Court and released.
During an instance when a number of such requests had been made, the President had issued instructions that Duminda Silva be released. Meanwhile, 93 convicts, including 16 former LTTE cadres, were granted Presidential Pardons in view of Poson Poya Day. The 16 ex-combatants were arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and 77 others were imprisoned for minor offenses.
Commissioner General of the Prisons Department Thushara Upuldeniya said these inmates, who were serving long sentences, exhibited good behaviour. They underwent PCR tests before leaving prison, he said.