SRI LANKA PARDONS INDIAN FISHERMEN ON DEATH ROW
November 19, 2014: Five Indian fishermen condemned to death for smuggling drugs into Sri Lanka will walk free after President Mahinda Rajapakse pardoned them, his office said.
The Colombo High Court convicted the men last month after they were arrested off the northwest coast in 2011 and charged with possessing nearly a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of heroin.
âThey were given a presidential pardon and transferred to the custody of immigration authorities to be sent back home,â presidential spokesman Mohan Samaranayake said.
The move followed diplomatic pressure to free the men and allegations in India that they were framed because they were poaching in Sri Lankan waters.
Drug convictions carry a mandatory death sentence, which is almost always commuted to life in prison. Sri Lanka has not carried out an execution since 1976.
The five Indians had withdrawn their appeal last week, clearing the way for a presidential pardon. (Sources: Afp, 19/11/2014)