Sri Lanka soldier will not qualify for diplomatic immunity
Posted on February 1st, 2019

By Phil Miller at Westminster Magistrates Court Courtesy Morning Star

Brigadier Priyanka Fernando, who no longer lives in Britain, had been convicted in absentia on January 21 of causing harassment, alarm and distress” to three complainants.

Westminster magistrates court issued a warrant for his arrest after watching video evidence of him making sinister slit-throat gestures at Tamil dissidents while standing outside his embassy.

The guilty verdict caused alarm in Sri Lankan capital Colombo.

Britain’s ambassador was swiftly invited” to a meeting with Sri Lanka’s foreign minister on January 24 to discuss the law around diplomatic immunity.

The court withdrew its arrest warrant on the same day.


Photo: Sabeshraj Sathiyamoorthy

The private prosecutors, who brought the case against Mr Fernando after the Metropolitan Police failed to act, were then summoned back to court for a hearing about diplomatic immunity today.

Britain’s Foreign Office provided the court with a certificate showing Mr Fernando did have diplomatic immunity when he committed the offence, although the department said it wished to remain neutral” in this case.

Private prosecutor Peter Carter QC then argued that the threatening act Mr Fernando committed was outside the scope of his diplomatic functions.”

Nicholas Wayne, a lawyer instructed at short notice by the Sri Lankan High Commission, appeared in court acting effectively on behalf of Mr Fernando.

Mr Wayne said I’m certainly not in a position to present any evidence straight away,” and chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot adjourned the hearing until March 1.

The brigadier remains convicted of public order offences.

 

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