Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa releases five Indian fishermen convicted for drug trafficking
Posted on November 20th, 2014

Sri Lanka Hot News

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Wednesday commuted death sentence of five Indian fishermen convicted for allegedly smuggling drugs into the country making mockery of the drug trafficking legislations in the country.

The move comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on the issue a few days ago and exerted political pressure to release these convicts.

On November 10, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had affirmed that Sri Lanka will transfer all the five fishermen, who had been sentenced to death on the charge of drug trafficking, to India and Television reports said that the five fishermen had been freed without any conditions and handed over to Indian officials in Colombo on 19th November 2014.

Emerson, P Augustus, R Wilson, K Prasath and J Langlet, all hailing from Tamil Nadu, were apprehended in 2011 and were sentenced to death by the Colombo high court on October 30 for alleged drug trafficking.

The court ruling had triggered fiery protests in parts of Tamil Nadu and sporadic violence broke out in and around Rameswaram island. Tamil Nadu-based parties including AIADMK and DMK have  been making this conviction a very emotional matter for India.

23 Responses to “Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa releases five Indian fishermen convicted for drug trafficking”

  1. SA Kumar Says:

    well done Modi – you done it ( a single phone call).
    My TNA para sakkiliar Why Mr Singh did not make this single phone call on May 2009 ???
    You Para Thamils (include myself) first learn Chinhalam & Buddisam before ask TE ,Moddu seena will give whole country to you !!!

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    President releases Tamil drug dealers!

    What a disaster. This encourages more and more drug dealers. No law and order.

  3. Independent Says:

    This is why EP is good , only if the President is “supper good”.

    This is why Mr. Kannangara is praising JHU’s moves.

    The truth is the current president did not promise to remove 13th A. So we cannot ask him. Similarly , opposition leader never promised it, we can’t ask him too.

    Only people who asked to remove it were, JHU and NFF. Even BBS did not ask as I remember (don’t trust my memory).
    But even them are not asking it now. Why ?

    I have this fear that someone is planning to actually give 13 plus as promised , to save one self. and rushing election to get approval. We should wait and see the election promises. If people vote to give 13 plus, that is the end of Hela Urumaya.

  4. Lorenzo Says:

    Independent,

    “The truth is the current president did not promise to remove 13th A. So we cannot ask him.”

    That is NOT a good enough argument.

    Did he promise 18 amendment? NOPE.
    Did he promise to kill VP? NOPE.

    SITUATION demands certain action. Now the MOST CRUCIAL matter is SCRAPPING 13 amendment.

    The GOOD NEWS is IF MR fails to SCRAP it, 13 amendment will SCRAP MR, etc. in more than one way.

    1. JHU, etc. MAY take up the issue WHEN JHU realizes it is getting UNPOPULAR. It is the TRUMP CARD.

    2. 13 amendment provincial councils ESPECIALLY THE NPC is already destroying MR. NPC MP Ananthi goes around the world, EVEN TO UNHRC, UN and give “evidence” to FRAME GR, etc. NPC passed MANY resolutions against “war crimes” and calling for investigations.

    So the clock is ticking. 13 amendment will DRAG MR to hell with it.

    I think this is why some parties (though they don’t benefit so much from 13 amendment) keep silent about it. They give MR ENOUGH 13 amendment rope to hang himself.

    “This is why EP is good , only if the President is “supper good”.”

    NO. He need not be SUPER GOOD. ANY sensible person would know DRUG DEALERS are WORST criminals. That is why they were given the DEATH penalty. Releasing them is an INSULT to law and order. MR is digging his own grave. Shame!

    This type of action CONVINCE me it is GOOD to SCRAP executive presidency!! MR is abusing it to release DRUG DEALERS.

  5. Ananda-USA Says:

    Lorenzo,

    As much as I would like those Indian drug peddlers to be hanged, or given a life sentence, do you know that Narendra Modi himself interceded on their behalf and promised to punish them in India?

    As President of Sri Lanka, MR has to judge what is in the best benefit of all Sri Lankans. Is it in taking the lives of these drug dealers and upholding SL law, or retaining the support of Narendra Modi, who is confronting the Racist Leaders of Tamil Nadu and defending SL as NO OTHER Indian Leader has done before?

    I think the choice is obvious, for releasing them to Modi’s custody is of MUCH GREATER BENEFIT to SL than not upholding the sentence of court or commuting the sentence. If the sentence had been carried out, it would have long therm repercussions on India-Sri Lanka relations. If it was commuted, there would be CONTINUOUS AGITATION for their release and the cost of maintaining them in prison till the end of their days.

    I think MR did the right thing RELEASING THEM to Indian custody at Modi’s request. Now, SL has done a favour for Modi, and he is that much in debt to SL. Governance in the best interest of SL is not as SIMPLE as you paint it, my friend.

  6. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Obviously India exerted a lot of pressure to protect these drug peddlers who happen to be her citizens. Maybe this time Colombo will relent but now it is time to hold Colombo accountable for any more arrests of those who want to poison Sri Lanka with drugs. Those who are captured should face the full ferocity of the law and nothing less. If this was Singapore (which Sri Lanka is trying to aspire) no pressure from any nation including the United States would have prevented Singapore from enforcing her laws.

  7. Ananda-USA Says:

    Sri Lanka releases five Indian fishermen sentenced to death

    ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Nov 19, Colombo: Sri Lanka today released the five Indian fishermen sentenced to death by the Colombo High Court last month on Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s order.

    Sri Lanka’s Colombo High Court on 30 October 2014 sentenced the five fishermen from Tamil Nadu – P Emerson, P Augustus, R Wilson, K Prasath, and J Lanklet – to death on charges of drug trafficking. They were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy in 2011 for smuggling 995 grams of heroin.

    The High Commission of India in Colombo confirmed that the five Indian fishermen were today released from prison for being sent back to India a day after they withdrew an appeal filed on behalf of them in Sri Lanka’s Court of Appeal.

    “We are deeply grateful to His Excellency Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka, for this humanitarian gesture, which will further strengthen the strong and multi-faceted relations between India and Sri Lanka,” the High Commission said in a statement today.

    Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi Rajapaksa spoke to President Rajapaksa on telephone on November 9, 2014 on the fishermen’s release.

    Sri Lanka exploring ways to free the Indian fishermen has indicated to the Indian authorities that the President of Sri Lanka can pardon the fishermen but for it to happen, Indians have to withdraw the appeal filed in against the High Court verdict.

    The High Commissioner of India, Y. K. Sinha, met the five fishermen after their release to ascertain their well-being.

    The High Commission said it is making necessary arrangements for the early return of the fishermen to India.

  8. Ananda-USA Says:

    Nation is Grateful to Rajapaksa, Modi for Fishermen’s Release: Swamy

    ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Nov 19 (PTI) Expressing his happiness over the release five Indian fishermen on death row in Sri Lanka, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy today said the nation is grateful to the joint efforts of the Indian and Sri Lankan heads of state for finding a solution to the “emotionally surcharged” issue.

    “The nation is grateful to the joint efforts of President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for finding a solution to the emotionally surcharged Tamil fishermen issue,” Swamy said in a statement here.

    “I am happy I was able to bring to the notice of both that a treaty of 2010 could facilitate the transfer to India of these fishermen,” he added.

    Swamy also urged the Prime Minister to repair the “ruptured” relations between India and Sri Lanka on the basis of mutual respect and dialogue.

    Five Indian fishermen sentenced to death in Sri Lanka for alleged drug trafficking were released today after President Mahinda Rajapaksa pardoned them.

    Emerson, P Augustus, R Wilson, K Prasath and J Langlet, all hailing from Tamil Nadu, were apprehended in 2011 and were sentenced to death by the Colombo High Court on October 30 for alleged drug trafficking.

    The court ruling had triggered fiery protests in parts of Tamil Nadu and sporadic violence broke out in and around Rameswaram island as a large number of people staged protests

  9. Ananda-USA Says:

    If Indian feelings are bruised … that is India’s OWN FAULT for inciting and supporting separatism in Sri Lanka, then invading and dictating terms to Sri Lanka.

    If and when India reverses that old policy that left Sri Lanka bleeding, broken and abused, and treats Sri Lanka as an independent sovereign nation entitled to take all steps to secure its sovereignty and economic progress, India may come to realize that India has NO CAUSE TO WORRY about its own safety.

    China was and will remain a great friend and ally of Sri Lanka; so can India be …. if India chooses to behave as a reliable friend and neighbor committed to STRICT NON-INTERFERENCE in Sri Lanka’s internal natters!

    …………………
    Increasing fear Rajapaksa not playing a straight bat

    ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Nov 18 (ET) Why are India-Sri Lanka relations in such trouble? The recent case of five Indian fishermen who were initially sentenced to death and then released (pending an appeal) for alleged smuggling of contraband is a case in point. The episode is scarcely the root of all problems but different perceptions of it point to a trust deficit.

    Similarly, the docking of Chinese nuclear-powered submarines and warships in Colombo, too, caused concern. When spoken to by Indian officials, the Sri Lankan defence secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa (brother of the country’s president), is said to have been evasive and to have dissimulated, until irrefutable evidence was presented. This too has broadened the trust gulf.

    It wasn’t supposed to be like this. In the past few years, as the UPA government faltered, it adopted a very short-sighted Sri Lanka policy. This policy was governed by Tamil Nadu politics and fringe groups in Chennai. As PM, Manmohan Singh did not visit Sri Lanka for the first Commonwealth summit in South Asia since 1983. All this disappointed Colombo. It was often joked that President Mahinda Rajapaksa was the international leader who was most looking forward to Narendra Modi’s election.

    The BJP-led government in New Delhi has been more open and clearheaded in its approach to Colombo. There is little question of surrendering to small-time politicians in TN or to those who are in effect LTTE apologists. In fact, there is reason to believe the entire idea of South Asian leaders attending PM Modi’s swearing-in event originated in the context of a discussion on Rajapaksa and the need for a breakthrough with Sri Lanka.

    Subsequent months have betrayed that early promise. In the highest quarters of this government, there is an increasing sentiment that Rajapaksa is not playing with a straight bat. While Sri Lanka has benefited enormously from the end of the civil war and the defeat of the Tamil Tigers, and has seen an economic boom in recent years, it is still not in a position to leverage its economy and geography to become some sort of a swing state, playing off China against India. In this Rajapaksa’s ambitions may be moving ahead of reality.

    China is today a very important economic partner for Sri Lanka. In the past four decades, the Chinese have given over $ 5 billion in loans and grants to the Sri Lankans. Tellingly 80% of this money has been transferred in the past five years, after the civil war. There is a big Chinese role in Sri Lankan infrastructure projects and Chinese debt has part-funded the property surge in Colombo. In September, when President Xi Jinping visited Sri Lanka, President Rajapaksa enthusiastically signed on to the Maritime Silk Route project and legitimised China’s arrival as a south Asian power stakeholder.

    To be fair, some of these infrastructure projects were offered to India. But it was either incapable of executing them or the previous government was too confused to do so. Neither do they take away from the importance of Sri Lanka’s economic engagement with India. Colombo port is viable only as a transhipment facility that serves the Indian economy. It cannot exist in the absence of Indian commerce, at least not for the foreseeable future. It is unlikely that any Chinese Maritime Silk Route network can make use of Colombo port as an Indian Ocean way-station and allow it to completely bypass India.

    Having said that, there is concern Rajapkasa is not showing the due maturity of a leader who has been in power for a decade. The credit lines the Chinese had opened in the past five years seem to be leaving an impact on him and claiming a strategic price. There is a sense that businesses of Rajapaksa’s immediate associates, including relatives, are in personal debt to Chinese credit institutions. At some point this money will need to be repaid or a compensatory benefit will need to be offered. India fears that compensation could be a re-orienting of Sri Lanka’s foreign policy.

    In January 2015, Rajapaksa is likely to call early elections, two years before they are due. Election campaigns are unpredictable and rhetoric can easily run faster than rationality. Given Rajapaksa’s Sinhalese base, it is to be hoped an overdone domestic triumphalism or a needling of India will not become part of the election. Should this happen, it will only strengthen those in New Delhi who are coming to believe that the current government in Colombo will now only respond to coercive diplomacy – given that it is willing to snub even a generally sympathetic Indian PM.

    That China has become the third person in the room in what used to be a purely bilateral equation is suggestive of wider challenges for India. If it is Colombo today, it could be Dhaka or Kathmandu tomorrow. Beijing will not stop, not unless Modi finds the economic muscle and the hard-power tools to secure his near neighbourhood.

  10. Ananda-USA Says:

    Putin warns US not to interfere in the internal affairs of Russia!

    That is EXACTLY what Sri Lanka ALSO wants from India, and from the US, UK and other Western Nations: NON-INTERFERENCE in INTERNAL AFFAIRS!

    ……………………..
    Putin greets new U.S. envoy with demand not to interfere

    By Timothy Heritage and Gabriela Baczynska
    November 19, 2014

    MOSCOW (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin greeted the new U.S. ambassador to Russia on Wednesday with a demand for Washington to treat Moscow as an equal partner and stay out of its internal affairs.

    The new envoy, John Tefft, said in a written statement after presenting his credentials that he wanted to strengthen “people-to-people” ties but there were serious differences over Ukraine.

    Their comments underlined the chasm between the former Cold War enemies as Tefft succeeds Michael McFaul, who was behind President Barack Obama’s planned “reset” in relations with Russia and whose posting was marked by controversy and tension.

    Putin met Tefft with a slight smile and they then stood stiffly beside each other posing for photographers during a Kremlin ceremony for new ambassadors.

    “We are ready for practical cooperation with our American partners in different fields, based on the principles of respect for each others’ interests, equal rights and non-interference in internal matters,” Putin said in a short speech.
    View gallery
    Russian President Vladimir Putin toasts with ambassadors …
    Russian President Vladimir Putin toasts with ambassadors during a ceremony to hand over credentials …

    His remarks were blunt though less fierce than some of his earlier criticism of Washington, which he has accused of trying to dominate world affairs and suppress Russia.

    The United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions on Moscow following its annexation of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine and over its backing for separatists in the east opposed to Kiev’s rule.

    In a statement issued after the ceremony, Tefft said he was committed to maintaining “open and frank lines of communication” with the Russian authorities.

    “We have serious differences over Russia’s policy in Ukraine. As President Obama said at the G20 summit in Brisbane, we hope Russia will choose ‘a different path’, to resolve the issue of Ukraine in a way that respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and is consistent with international law,” he said.

    “We would prefer a Russia that is fully integrated with the global economy; that is thriving on behalf of its people; that can once again engage with us in cooperative efforts around global challenges.”

    Moscow approved the appointment of Tefft even though Russian officials said privately he was not entirely to their liking.

    Tefft was the United States’ ambassador to Georgia during its short with Russia in 2008 and was the U.S. envoy to Ukraine for nearly four years until July last year. He was deputy chief of mission in Moscow in the second half of the 1990s.

    Other strains in ties are differences over regional conflicts such as the civil war in Syria, arms control and human rights issues, and Putin’s treatment of opponents.

  11. Sooriarachi Says:

    Tamilnadu activists are behaving like a bunch fools, demanding the release of persons convicted for smuggling drugs. Are they trying to say that a Tamil cannot be a drug smuggler or a criminal?
    Anyway it is good the Sri Lankan Government released them, as otherwise the Tamilnadu activists could blow this out of proportion and it would be a long drawn out distraction.
    However, I do not understand why the Indian Government appealed against this guilty verdict.
    Was it all politics at the expense of enforcing the law?

  12. Independent Says:

    Indian government believed these people are innocent.

    I do not agree this kind of any how release. It should be done with proper written agreement that they serve life sentence in India, if death penalty cannot be applied. In a proper democracy any how release by the President does not happen. I will be grateful if Ananda or any one else who supports release the way it was done to tell me any instance it happened in any other country ( except Islamic republics).

    Our President did not get involved like this for the release of Rizana Naffek girl. He will also not get involved if some one gets death penalty in India.

    This is how weak we are. This is how weak our constitution at the moment.

  13. SA Kumar Says:

    Our President did not get involved like this for the release of Rizana Naffek girl. – unforgettable !!!
    Thanks Mr unforgettable ! (who ever you are?) , We All SL should blame for her dead .

  14. SenaD Says:

    It is a political move to get rid of a problem that might pester for a long time without any benefit to the country.

    Many governments do such things when the need arises.

    I remember a case where the man convicted of being instrumental in placing a bomb in a civilian plane which subsequently crashed in Scotland was released to Libya on the premise that he was dying of a cancer. He later miraculously recovered and died much later.

    The British PM was alleged to have made some commercial deals for it. The factual details will be revealed, if at all,after some 30 or 40 years.

    That is how transparency seem to work in the ‘international community’.

  15. SA Kumar Says:

    I think MR did the right thing RELEASING THEM to Indian custody – All 5 Fisher mans are in their home now( not in Indian custody).

    Can our president release our 3 Nedundivu fisher man to Home ???

  16. Marco Says:

    Ananda you stated
    “I think MR did the right thing RELEASING THEM to Indian custody at Modi’s request. Now, SL has done a favour for Modi, and he is that much in debt to SL. Governance in the best interest of SL”

    Mind boggling!

    Please explain how you think India or Modi is indebted to SL in pardoning 5 drug criminals second only to terrorist.

    I can only assume you think that the President was happy for our children, grand children, brothers and sisters exposed to the Drug menace by these Criminals in the “best interest of SL”?

    And they walked away free in India.
    What sort of example is being set here when Drugs has become a serious issue in Sri Lanka

    Astonishing!

  17. douglas Says:

    Any news of the other two Sri Lankans convicted and sentenced to “Death”?

  18. Marco Says:

    SenaD
    “It is a political move to get rid of a problem that might pester for a long time without any benefit to the country.”

    You mean like the 13th Amendment?

  19. Lorenzo Says:

    SL did NOT exchange these DRUG DEALERS with Endian PRISONS. They were RELEASED!!

    The other 2 SL drug dealers are STILL in prison. Selective justice at its best!

  20. Nandawathie Says:

    Douglas,
    “Any news of the other two Sri Lankans convicted and sentenced to “Death”?”

    I think they will be released too at the next birthday.

  21. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    Who says he is Maha Raja? To me he is a Baya Gulla.

  22. SenaD Says:

    Marco,

    Re. your, “You mean like the 13th Amendment?”:

    I meant the president appears to have judged that it (i.e. keeping the Indian convicts in Sri Lanka) could become a pestering problem for the state to state interactions.

  23. Ananda-USA Says:

    I said it BEFORE, and I’ll say it AGAIN: MR did the right thing in RELEASING the Indian Fishermen!

    “India feels obliged to Rajapaksa for his humanitarian action. Given the charge made by some Sri Lankan parties that the government has not been serious in dealing with narcotics smuggling, his is a bold decision, more so as he is expected to face elections shortly. His gesture is bound to make an impact on the Modi government and improve bilateral relations.”

    ……………….
    Fishermen’s Release a Success of Diplomacy

    By The New Indian Express
    November 21, 2014

    The release of the five fishermen, who were given death penalty by the Colombo High Court, is a victory for the Narendra Modi government. It became possible when Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa used his executive powers to commute the penalty to the period they spent in jail since their arrest in November 2011. Unlike other fishermen’s cases, the charge against them was not that they fished in Sri Lankan waters but that they were in narcotics business. The judgment was seen as a travesty of justice as the poor fishermen were not able to defend themselves in the court, which also did not consider their plea of innocence.

    Drug trafficking is a serious offence in India, too. Whether the five were able to defend themselves or not, it was also a fact that they were found guilty by a proper court of law. Given this backdrop, India could not have done much in the case but when resentment grew in Tamil Nadu, it took the wise decision to hire the best lawyers and appeal against the verdict. Modi also explored other diplomatic possibilities, as when he made a telephone call to the Sri Lankan president. India’s High Commission in Sri Lanka also followed up the prime minister’s intervention by taking up the issue at various other levels. All of this paid dividends when the president exercised his special powers in favour of the fishermen.

    India feels obliged to Rajapaksa for his humanitarian action. Given the charge made by some Sri Lankan parties that the government has not been serious in dealing with narcotics smuggling, his is a bold decision, more so as he is expected to face elections shortly. His gesture is bound to make an impact on the Modi government and improve bilateral relations. Some political parties in Tamil Nadu, which tried to vitiate the atmosphere by alleging the Centre did nothing to save the fishermen, would have learnt a lesson that there was no substitute for quiet, but effective, diplomacy in dealing with such situations. Let the release mark a new chapter in India-Sri Lanka ties.

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