Supreme Court affirms conviction of Duminda and two others

Duminda Silva being escorted by Prisons officials after the verdict. Picture by Nirosh Batepola

A five judge Bench of the Supreme Court yesterday affirmed the conviction of former Defence Ministry Monitoring MP Duminda Silva and two others.

The Supreme Court Bench presided over by Chief Justice Priyasath Dep comprised Justices Buwaneka Aluvihare, Priyantha Jayawardena, Nalin Perera and Vijith Malalgoda.

The five judge Bench was unanimous in their decision to reject the appeal filed by Duminda Silva and two others against the death sentence imposed by the Colombo High Court.

The judgement of the Colombo High Court found them guilty of conspiring to commit the murder of four persons including former MP Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra.

Accordingly, the five-judge-Bench of the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the decision of the Colombo High Court to impose the death sentence on eleventh accused Duminda Silva, third accused Chaminda Ravi Jayanath alias Dematagoda Chaminda and seventh accused Dissanayake Mudiyanselage Sarath Bandara.

The first accused Anura Thushara de Mel, a police officer assigned to Duminda Silva’s security detail was ordered to be acquitted and released from all charges levelled against him.

The Supreme Court also directed to acquit Duminda Silva, Chaminda Ravi Jayanath and Dissanayake Mudiyanselage Sarath Bandara from charges relating to possession of illegal firearms.

Courtroom (No.502) of the Supreme Court was packed with lawyers, journalists, relatives of accused and curious onlookers, at the time the judgment was delivered. The judgment was delivered around 2:50 pm by Chief Justice Priyasath Dep who is in his final week on the bench.

Four accused including former Defence Ministry Monitoring MP Duminda Silva had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court challenging the judgment of Colombo High Court.

Duminda Silva, the eleventh accused in the murder case earlier filed apetition in the Supreme Court requesting that the hearing of the appeal be accelerated on medical grounds.

Through his appeal, Duminda Silva stated that he sought the jurisdiction of Supreme Court to review and set aside their conviction and the death sentence imposed by High Court on September 8, 2016.

Five accused including former MP Duminda Silva were on September 8, 2016 sentenced to death by the Colombo High Court for committing the murder of four persons including former MP Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra on October 8, 2011.

However, the verdict was divided two to one with judges Pathmini N.Ranawaka and M.C.B.S. Moraes finding the five accused guilty for 10 charges including committing and conspiring to commit murder of four people while Justice Shiran Gunaratne, the President of Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar found the thirteen accused not guilty of all seventeen charges. The tenth accused Janaka Bandara Galagoda who was also sentenced to death is evading Courts since the inception of the police inquiry.

While delivering the judgment, two High Court Judges Pathmini N. Ranawaka Gunatilleke and M.C.B.S. Moraes unanimously decided that the prosecutors have proved the five accused guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. High Court Judge Pathmini N. RanawakaGunatilleke observed that the provocative behaviour of the eleventh accused Duminda Silva led to the whole incident.

The Judge further observed that the evidence have proved that Duminda Silva had provided leadership to the unruly behaviour of the mob and therefore he should be held responsibile for the whole incident. She further observed that the JMO reports have revealed that Duminda Silva was under the influence of liquor at the time of the incident, but deceased Bharatha Premachandra was not .

However, High Court Judge Shiran Gunaratne found all accused not guilty citing there are no substantial evidence to charge them under 17 counts.

He observed that the evidence presented by the investigative officers was contradictory in nature and the benefit of the doubt should go to the accused.

The accused were charged on 17 counts including committing and conspiring to commit murder of four individuals,including Bharatha Premachandra, Dharshana Jayathilaka, Mohamed Azmy and Manimel Kumaraswamy and inflicting gunshot injuries on Mr.Premachandra’s bodyguard Rajapurage Gamini after being members of an unlawful assembly on October 8, 2011, at Walpola, Mulleriyawa.

The accused had been charged under Section 296, 140, 146, 147, 486 and 300 of the Penal Code. They were further charged under the offences of Firearms Act. The Attorney General had called 42 witnesses and presented in Courts 126 documents including the Government’s Analysts reports and JMO reports.

President’s Counsel Anil de Silva, Shavindra Fernando PC, Anuja Premaratne PC, Anura Meddegoda PC and Saliya Peiris PC appeared for the accused. Deputy Solicitor General Thusith Mudalige appeared for the Attorney General.


[Four people, including my father were gunned down in broad daylight - Hirunika]

UNP MP Hirunika Premachandra commenting on the verdict yesterday said “it does not change the fact that four people were gunned down on the street in broad daylight including my father”.

Upon hearing the verdict confirming the death sentence for the murder of Bharatha Lakshman, ex-MP Duminda muttered “Kamak nehe ithin” (Never mind) as the rest broke into tears in the Supreme Court following the unanimous verdict by the Five Judge Bench. Silva & the 3 accused have no further appeal.

 

 

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