Former Parliamentarian Duminda Silva and four others were sentenced to death by the Colombo High Court today over the 2011 killing of former presidential adviser Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra and three others.
The verdict was given on 1/2 majority by the trial at bar comprising Judges Shiran Gunaratne (President), Pathmini N Ranawaka and MCBS Morais.
The accused were convicted on charges of rioting, unlawful assembly with common objective to commit a crime, criminal intimidation causing death or grievous hurt and the charge of murder under the Penal Code and Firearms Ordinance.
The verdict was divided when the president of the trial at bar, Judge Shiran Gunaratne delivered his judgment acquitting all 13 accused from all charges filed against them due to the lack of integrity of the witnesses produced by the prosecution during the trial and prosecution’s inability to prove beyond reasonable doubt over the given charges precisely.
Accused Withanalage Anura Thushara de Mel (1st accused) was convicted on eight charges while other accused Chaminda Ravi Jayanath alias Dematagoda Chaminda (3rd accused), Sarath Bandara and Janaka Bandara Galagoda (10th accused), who had gone missing, and Duminda Silva (11th accused) were convicted on ten counts each.
Apart from the murder charge, the third, seventh, tenth and eleventh accused were fined Rs. 40,000 and imposed 26 and a half years Rigorous Imprisonment with lifetime imprisonments over the other charges while the other first accused of the case was fined Rs. 20,000 and imposed 22 and a half years rigorous imprisonment with lifetime imprisonments.
Eight accused, Chandana Jagath Kumara, Lanka Rasanjana, Malaka Sameera, Widanage Amila, Suranga Premalal, Saman Kumara Abeywickrama, Rohana Marasinghe and Liyanarachchi Shaminda were acquitted by the trial at bar unanimously over all charges filed against them into the incident as the prosecution failed to prove charges on them beyond reasonable doubt.
Delivering the majority judgment, High Court Judge Pathmini N Ranawaka observed that the prosecution had proved during the trial, that the 11th accused of the case, Duminda Silva had lead the other suspects to the crime carrying the intention to kill the victim, Mr. Premachandra using the event as an opportunity, since it was evident that the accused had a long running resentment with the victim.
The Judge also held that according to the medical reports submitted in court by the prosecution; the accused Mr. Silva had been influenced with alcohol when the brawl and shooting were taken place within the Kolonnawa electorate, during the Local Government elections in October, 2011 against the victim’s side.
Rejecting the defence argument raised during the trial that the Duminda Silva was first shot by the opposition at the shooting the Judge ascertained that the accused as a parliamentarian and a well known person about the armed security attached to the Mr. Premachandra, he should have acted having the awareness of the consequences could occur from such a shooting..
Defence counsel Anil Silva PC who appeared for the convict Duminda Silva observed that such a verdict of an accused carrying a serious illness of life threatening being convicted with capital punishment was seen in first time in the country's legal arena.
Meanwhile, delivering dock statements before the death penalty was pronounced, all four convicts including Duminda Silva told court that they were innocent and not guilty over the charges put forward against them.
Earlier, the Attorney General had filed indictments against 13 individuals including Duminda Silva on 17 counts over the killing of Mr. Premachandra, and three of his aides.
The killing took place within the Kolonnawa electorate, during the Local Government elections in October, 2011. (Shehan Chamika Silva)