An open letter to British Prime minister on Conviction of Brigadier Priyanka Fernando
Posted on December 8th, 2019

By Rajendra Alwis

I was deeply perturbed to note the judgment delivered by a UK court in absentia convicting Brigadier Priyanka Fernando (Case No.1801273043) in which he was fined £ 2400. Brigadier Fernando at the time of the incident was serving as the Defence Attaché in the Sri Lanka High Commission in London. 

Since Brigadier Fernando was holding a diplomatic position in the Sri Lankan High Commission in London when this incident took place no doubt that he was protected by diplomatic immunity as per Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961. Accordingly, this judgment is a blatant violation of the Vienna Convention with serious procedural errors.

In 1967, Burma’s (now Myanmar) Ambassador to, Sao Boonwaat murdered his wife in Colombo, Sri Lanka (then Ceylon). However, the Sri Lankan government couldn’t take any legal action against him due to diplomatic immunity and he was brought back to Burma to initiate legal action. This is a classic case in point to illustrate diplomatic immunity for those who are not conversant with the procedural fairness in honoring and protecting it. 

Brigadier Fernando was convicted for cut-throat gestures displayed in body language that was said to have intimidated some demonstrators who had staged a protest against Sri Lanka in front of the Sri Lanka High Commission, in London. It is well known in Education Psychology that gestures and body languages always connote and denote different shades of meanings according to the life experiences of people which has no rational or objective base. Hence, this is a very subjective judgment that is not cerebral under any measurement.

In closing, please let me quote the pathetic fate of the Englishman, Timothy Evans, falsely convicted by the British court and hanged him in January 1950 saying he murdered his wife and infant child at their residence at 10 Rillington Place in Notting Hill. Three years after Evan’s execution, his downstairs neighbor, John Christie was found to be a serial killer by the British court who had also killed Evan’s wife and infant child. Later Evans was granted a posthumous pardon. What else to say other than saying British Law system is great”. 

Rt. Honorable Prime Minister please instruct your legal authorities revisit and rectify the undue judgment in Brigadier Priyanka Fernando’s case only to maintain the reputation of the law system of your country. Surely the newly elected President of Sri Lanka will look after Brigadier Fernando in a fitting manner to do justice.

One Response to “An open letter to British Prime minister on Conviction of Brigadier Priyanka Fernando”

  1. Ratanapala Says:

    The gesture similar to that made by Brigadier Priyanka Fernando when confronted by Tiger Terrorist supporters in London is frequently made by New Zealand and Pacific Islands Rugby teams as a warlike challenge to the opposing teams. It is done worldwide during Rugby games and famously by the world-renowned New Zealand team – All Blacks even in Britain and also at the Rugby World Cup matches.

    The ‘slit throat sign’ is usual and nobody to date has complained about it. I wonder what ails the British other than their ‘allergy’ to the Sinhalese! Maybe it is because it is the Sinhalese who gave them a bloody nose many times during their illegal occupation of Sri Lanka from 1815 to 1948!

    The complaint by the losers – the diaspora Tamils is understandable.

    Brigadier Fernando should appeal this case and not pay the fine as he had diplomatic immunity at the time this incident took place.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45Wl1sNe0jI

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