President Mahinda Rajapaksa is ready to pardon the five Indian fishermen sentenced to death in Sri Lanka if the Indian High Commission in Colombo does not proceed with an appeal against the sentence, Sri Lankan Minister Prabha Ganesan told The Hindu on Tuesday.
“The President said he could pardon and release the fishermen in two or three days, but a court appeal would drag the case up to six months,” Mr. Ganesan, who met the President to pledge support in the upcoming elections, said.
Mr. Rajapaksa, the MP said, wanted him to convey this decision to the High Commission. When contacted, officials at the High Commission confirmed having received the call from Mr. Ganesan, Deputy Minister of Telecommunication and Information Technology. The officials said they would decide the next step on Wednesday.
The sudden development came on a day when an appeal was filed against the death sentence in the Colombo High Court.
Mr. Ganesan said President Rajapaksa had told him he had already discussed the pardon with Mr. Modi and that the High Commission was “unnecessarily spending huge sums of money on the appeal.”