By S. S. Selvanayagam
The Supreme Court yesterday (26 March) fixed to be resumed further submission the following day (27 March) in respect of the appeal petitions filed by five accused including former Defence Ministry Monitoring MP Duminda Silva against the judgment of Colombo High Court.
The Bench comprised Chief Justice Priyasath Dep, B. P. Aluvihara, Priyantha Jayawardane, Nalin Perera and Vijith K. Malalgoda.
President’s Counsel Anil de Silva appeared for Duminda Silva. Deputy Solicitor General Thusith Mudalige appeared for the Attorney General.
The accused were sentenced to death by the Colombo High Court in a divided judgment for committing the murder of four persons in 2011 - including former MP Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra.
The five accused - former Defence Ministry Monitoring MP Duminda Silva, Anura Thushara de Mel, Chaminda Ravi Jayanath alias Dematagoda Chaminda, Dissanayake Mudiyanselage Sarath Bandara and Janaka Bandara Galagoda - were sentenced to death by Colombo High Court for committing the murder of four persons including former MP Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra on 8 October 2011.
The verdict was divided two to one with Judges Pathmini N. Ranawaka Gunatilleke and M. C. B. S. Moraes finding the five accused guilty on 10 charges, including committing and conspiring to commit the murder of four people, while Justice Shiran Gunaratne, the President of Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar found the thirteen accused not guilty of all seventeen charges. While handing out the judgment, Judges Pathmini N. Ranawaka Gunatilleke and M.C.B.S. Moraes unanimously decided that the prosecutors had proved the five accused guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. High Court Judge Pathmini N. Ranawaka Gunatilleke had observed that the provocative behaviour of the eleventh accused, Duminda Silva, led to the whole incident.
The Judge further observed that the evidence had proved that Duminda Silva had provided leadership to the unruly behaviour of the mob, and therefore he should be held responsible for the whole incident.
However, High Court Judge Shiran Gunaratne found all accused not guilty, citing that there was no substantial evidence to charge them under 17 counts. He had observed that the evidence presented by the investigative officers was contradictory in nature, and the benefit of the doubt should go to the accused. The other accused - Chandana Jagath Kumara, Lanka Rasanjana, Malaka Sameera, Widanagamage Amila, Suranga Premalal, Saman Kumara Abeywickrema and Rohana Marasinghe - were acquitted and released. The accused were charged under 17 counts including committing and conspiring to commit murder of four individuals, inflicting gunshot injuries, unlawful assembly and criminal intimidation on or around 08 October 2011. The accused had been charged under Sections 296, 140, 146, 147, 486 and 300 of the Penal Code. They were further charged under the Offences of Firearms Act.
The accused had been charged under 17 counts including the killing of Bharatha Premachandra, Dharshana Jayathilaka, Mohamed Azmy and Manimel Kumaraswamy, and inflicting gunshot injuries on Mr. Premachandra’s bodyguard Rajapurage Gamini, after being members of an unlawful assembly on 8 October 2011 at Walpola, Mulleriyawa.