Tamil Opposition Parliamentarians signed a petition to the President to pardon and release convicted politician Duminda Silva on “humanitarian grounds” MP Mano Ganesan said today.
Silva, who was sentenced to death five years ago for the murder of fellow politician Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra, has exhausted all appeal processes.
Ganesan and the five MPs from the Tamil Progressive Alliance, part of the group headed by the Samagi Jana Balavegaya, joined all members of parliament from the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna who have sent a petition to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa calling for the former MPs release.
The signatures were affixed on the petition on October 20 and was circulated by the Office of the Chief Government Whip, the Sunday Times newspaper reported yesterday.
It added that the involvement of the Chief Government Whip’s office staff “makes clear the exercise had official blessings. When the petition goes to President Rajapaksa, the release of Duminda Silva is thus a strong likelihood.”
In a media statement Ganesan said that Silva is “charged with murder He had been under the influence of liquor when the killings occurred. Now, he has already spent near five years in prison.”
Justifying his stance Ganesan said “I am a human rights activist beyond being a politician. I have fought against white van abductions, extrajudicial killings and ransoms amidst life threats, during my struggle.”
Ganesan also added that “Tamil prisoners arrested for politically oriented crimes, when they were young and they who have now spent most part of their lives in remand prison, serving terms, yet to be charged under investigations and facing court cases should be also released to join their families and live in their societies.”
Silva was injured in an exchange of gunfire with another group of politicians from the same party during the local government elections in 2011. Premachandra and three others died in the incident and Silva and three associates were convicted by a three-judge bench in 2016.