Sri Lanka Supreme Court exposes other criminal acts of Duminda Silva
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court, which upheld the death penalty of MP Duminda Silva, has also highlighted his criminal activities including the use of an automatic weapon stolen from the Elephant Pass army camp.
The outgoing Chief Justice Priyasath Dep in his 51-page order noted a string of crimes, including election law violations, committed by Silva and his cohorts culminating in the killing of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra and three others.
The five-judge bench in its unanimous decision found that the killings came after Silva and his gang beat up rival supporters and voters at the October 2011 local council elections and had even intimidated women.
"Starting from the time the polling commenced and till the time it was drawing to an end, the 11th Accused (Duminda Silva) spent his day, marauding between polling stations with weapons, defying officials discharging their duties, and assaulting and victimizing people associated with Solangaarachchi (a rival candidate).
"The only time they were not seen intimidating people were when the group was having lunch,” the Chief Justice said in his final order before retirement.
Justice Nalin Perera who was appointed Chief Justice on Friday, agreed with Dep’s decision. Others on the bench were justices Buwaneka Aluwihare, Priyantha Jayawardena and Vijith K. Malalgoda.
The court held that Bharatha Lakshman and three others were shot dead at the behest of Duminda Silva and the weapon used had been stolen from the Elephant Pass military camp when it was overrun by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2000.
It was not mentioned how Silva, a Monitoring MP of the Defence ministry at the time, came to posses this weapon.
An army Brigadier identified only as Gamage has testified at the trial confirming that the weapon used in the killing was one lost by the army on April 22, 2000 when the Elephant Pass camp was overrun by the LTTE.
The Supreme Court rejected Silva’s position that he had been shot in the head by Premachandra’s officially-assigned bodyguard and was not responsible for subsequent events, including the killings of Premachandra and the other three people.
However, the Court rejected this position on the basis that Silva had been leading the unlawful assembly and triggered the violence by first assaulting Premachandra whose Personal Security Officer, using the right to private defence, then opened fire and injured Silva.
"Upto the very minute he was shot in his head, the 11th Accused (Duminda Silva) was leading the unlawful assembly. This means that there could only have been a millisecond difference in time between the first shot and the retaliation.
"Causing death using firearms was very much a foreseeable consequence of their criminal enterprise. It is also true that the 11th Accused (Duminda Silva) was a member of that assembly when the transaction—which lasted for fleeting 60 or more seconds—commenced.
"At the same time, there is no evidence to suggest that, at any time prior to that, the 11th Accused (Duminda Silva) showed a tendency to disassociate himself with the object of the assembly,” the judgement said.
However, the court acquitted Duminda Silva’s official bodyguard, constable Vithanalage Anura Thushara de Mel who had not used a weapon and had also been against getting into a gun battle.
The Supreme Court held that the prosecution had failed to establish that de Mel shared the common objective of the unlawful assembly and that he should therefore be acquitted.
Duminda Silva’s gang had used only one T56 weapon, the one stolen from the Elephant pass camp, and 27 spent cartridges found at the crime scene had been fired from it.
The court found that Duminda Silva had systematically moved from one polling centre to the other intimidating voters and had assaulted voters they suspected of voting for the opposition. Women were intimidated and there was a string of violence against people in the area. (COLOMBO, October 13, 2018)