Correction of a verdict given by a regime influencing & politicizing the Judiciary
Posted on June 26th, 2021

Courtesy Hiru News

Former Colombo District Parliamentarian Duminda Silva, who was imprisoned for the murder of former Parliamentarian Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra was released on a Presidential pardon yesterday.

Former Member of Parliament Duminda Silva played a significant role in uplifting the living standards of low-income earners in the Colombo District.

An exchange of gunfire between United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) former parliamentarians Duminda Silva and Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra took place at Walpola Junction in Kolonnawa on the day of the 2011 local government elections.

Former Member of Parliament Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra and three of his bodyguards were killed during this shootout.<br /><br />Former MP Duminda Silva who was shot in the head on October 8, 2011, at around 3.30 pm, sustained major injuries and was taken to the Sri Jayewardenepura General Hospital for treatment.

Following the initial treatment, he was admitted to a hospital in Singapore for further medical treatment.

Duminda Silva who was treated at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore for a long time returned to Sri Lanka after recovering and resumed his usual social service to the public.

The Attorney General filed Seventeen (17) charges in the Colombo High Court including criminal charges against 13 individuals including former MP Duminda Silva over the incident that occurred on 08 October 2011 naming them as defendants.

The trial in this regard commenced on 22 May 2015.

Forty-two eyewitnesses (42) were called to court and cross-examined during the lengthy trial which lasted for more than a year.

In addition, 126 various reports, including Judicial medical reports, were submitted for this trial.

It also included the reports of the Government Analysts’ who conducted investigations into the incident.

After nearly 14 months, the case, which was heard before a three-judge bench concluded on 14 July 2016. The verdict on the case was announced on 08 September 2016.

The verdict was announced as a divided decision referred to as a majority decision of the three-judge bench which was headed by High Court Judge Shiran Gunaratne.

The Presiding Judge acquitted all the accused of all charges, while Judges Padmini N. Ranawaka and M.C.B.S Moraes announced their verdict convicting former parliamentarian Duminda Silva and four others and sentencing them to death.

Former MP Duminda Silva filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the decision given by the Colombo High Court.

The appeal was heard by a five-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice of the time, Justice Priyasath Dep.

Following the hearing, the Supreme Court five-judge Bench delivered a unanimous decision affirming the verdict of the High Court as correct. Accordingly, former MP Duminda Silva and the others were imprisoned.

However, a wider discussion developed in society as to how former MP Duminda Silva who was the first injured in the gunfire and had fallen down, could be the killer of former MP Bharatha Lakshman.

Meanwhile, the discussion of the verdict of former MP Duminda Silva takes the centre stage again following the leaked audio tapes of secretly recorded phone calls made by Ranjan Ramanayake who was a parliamentarian at the time.

Among the audiotapes were conversations between former MP Ranjan Ramanayake and Superintendent of Police Shani Abeysekara who conducted investigations. These conversations revealed to the public how the verdict in the trial of former MP Duminda Silva was influenced by MP Ranjan Ramanayake by giving calls to SP Shani Abeysekara.

“YouTube video player”

“YouTube video player”

The tapes also revealed the manner in which former MP Ranjan Ramanayake influences and exerts pressure by calling Judge Padmini N. Ranawaka who was a member of the Trial-at-Bar that heard the case against former MP Duminda Silva.

Thus, there was a wider debate in the society and in the political arena that the former Member of Parliament had been unjustly treated and imprisoned.

With these controversial audio tapes being broadcasted on mainstream media channels as well as on social media, a strong voice emerged from civil society activists and even political activists calling for the release of former MP Duminda Silva.

Even in Parliament, there was a call for the release of the former Member of Parliament who was unjustly imprisoned.

The main argument of all those who raised their voices against the injustice done to Duminda Silva was that this was the result of a sinister scheme orchestrated by SP Shani Abeysekara of the Criminal Investigation Department who was investigating the murder of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra.

Sufficient new information and evidence emerged through the leaked audiotapes which were secretly recorded by former MP Ranjan Ramanayake to prove that it was a deliberate and well-planned setup to trap former MP Duminda Silva.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa decided to refer the verdict of the case to the Special Presidential Commission appointed to probe alleged incidents of political victimization in the wake of strong voices from social activists alleging that the former parliamentarian had been subjected to serious injustice.

It was revealed before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry, which considered the verdict and the compiled evidence, that SP Shani Abeysekara had deliberately acted to convict former MP Duminda Silva.

It was also revealed at the Presidential Commission that former MP Ranjan Ramanayake has also exerted pressure on the Judges to influence the verdict of the case against former MP Duminda Silva.

Following a lengthy inquiry, the Presidential Commission of Inquiry concluded that former MP Duminda Silva had been treated unfairly.

Accordingly, former Parliamentarian Duminda Silva was released under a special presidential pardon in accordance with the powers vested in President Gotabaya Rajapaksa by the Constitution.

This is how former Parliamentarian Duminda Silva who was imprisoned in the Welikada Prison for over five years over an offence that he did not commit was released.

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