ECONOMYNEXT – When Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa pardoned former MP and murder convict Duminda Silva, he should’ve also pardoned the other individuals convicted along with him, in the interest of fairness, former MP Hirunika Premachandra said.
“Three others were also convicted for the murder of [Premachandra’s father and former MP Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra]. What about them? They too should’ve been pardoned in the interest of fairness,” she told reporters Thursday (22).
It is easy for the president to have his “pets and friends” released by appointing commissions such as the controversial Presidential Commission on Political Victimisation, she said.
“By pardoning Silva, the president has degraded a decision made by a seven-judge bench including the then chief justice,” the opposition politician said.
“What about the others who received life sentences or death penalties and are still in prison?” she added.
If presidential pardons are the order of the day, Premachandra said, there is no need for courts and prisons in the country.
“Since I am the affected party, I need to know under what provisions the president issued the presidential pardon. There are steps the president has to follow when granting a pardon to a person sentenced to death,” she said.
The former MP said she had filed a fundamental rights petition at the Supreme Court as her fundamental rights as a citizen have been violated by the pardon granted to the man convicted of her father’s murder.
“If a person who is sentenced to death can walk out in such a short period under a presidential pardon, then others should also have that,” she said.
“What is the example this president is giving? He came to power declaring ‘one country, one law’. What I need to know is, if it is indeed one country and one law, then why does he only help people with power?”
Premachandra filed the petition on Wednesday requesting the Supreme Court to declare that granting a presidential pardon to Duminda Silva is unconstitutional. She is seeking an order that will nullify the pardon.
Minister of Justice Ali Sabry and the Attorney General have been named as respondents in the petition.
Silva, along with two others, was sentenced to death over the murder of former MP Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra in 2011. His release from prison had been long speculated, though no such move had been initiated since the change of government in 2019, until now.
Silva was released June 24 morning in addition to 93 prisoners including 16 ex-Tamil Tiger combatants who were also pardoned by the president.
The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) said on the day of his release that if any one of a number of considerations were not satisfied in the release of former MP and murder convict Duminda Silva, the presidential pardon granted to him would be unreasonable and arbitrary.