SRI LANKA: PRESIDENT SIRISENA GRANTS PARDON TO ROYAL PARK MURDER CONVICT ON DEATH ROW
November 11, 2019:
Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena in the final week of his term in office has pardoned a death row prisoner who was convicted of a murder of a Swedish teenager in 2005, local media reported on 9 November 2019. Sri Lanka's Court of Appeal in 2012, overturning a 12 year prison term imposed by the Colombo High Court, sentenced Shermantha Jude Jayamaha in the murder of 19-year-old Yvonne Jonsson at the luxurious Royal Park Condominiums at Rajagiriya in July 2005. Recently, President Maithripala Sirisena said he would consider granting presidential pardon to Mr Jayamaha since he had served his term on good behavior while completing his doctorate in prison. "He went to prison at the age of 19 over an incident of impatience," the President said announcing his intention on the pardon request. Chairman of the Office on Missing Persons Saliya Peiris questioned how the President chose Royal Park convict among thousands of convicts on death row to grant a presidential pardon. "This is not the routine pardon where after decades in prison prisoners are released. This is a very special pardon. This is a case where the High Court verdict convicting him of culpable homicide not amounting to murder was overturned by the Court of Appeal which convicted him of murder and imposed the death sentence. The Supreme Court dismissed his appeal at the outset by refusing Special Leave to Appeal. It is still less than 10 years since his murder conviction. The prosecuting counsel was none other than the present Chief Justice, then Additional SG Jayantha Jayasuriya PC. There are other prisoners convicted for lesser offences languishing in jail for years without release who have good grounds to be treated with mercy. What sort of message does this pardon give to society? What justice to the victim at a time when people talk of victim protection?" Mr. Peiris said in his Facebook page. He said on a matter of principle similar to its other interventions the Bar Association must intervene in this matter as it seriously undermines the Rule of Law.