By S.S. Selvanayagam
A divisional Bench of five Judges of the Supreme Court yesterday (1) fixed for argument in June the appeal filed by a former Army Officer Sunil Ratnayake against his conviction and sentence by the Colombo High Court in the massacre of eight civilians in Mirusuvil village, Jaffna in 2000.
The Bench comprised Justices B.P. Aluwihare, Sisira J. De Abrew, Priyantha Jayawardena, Upaly Abeyrathne and Anil Gooneratne.
The Court fixed the matter for argument on 5, 6, 7, 12, 13 and 14 June.
In the High Court Trial-at-Bar, a former staff sergeant R.M. Sunil Ratnayake attached to the Army was found guilty for the murder of eight Tamil civilians and sentenced to death.
After a 13-year trial, High Court Judges Lalith Jayasuriya and Preethi Padman Surasena in their judgment delivered on 25 June 2015 found the first accused Sunil Ratnayake of the Army Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) guilty of 17 counts including unlawful assembly with common intention to cause injury and murder of eight Tamil civilians as sufficient evidence had proven his guilt.
Court also imposed a fine of Rs. 51,000 on the 1st accused in default he would be liable to a seven-month imprisonment.
Other four accused Lieutenant R.W. Senaka Munasinghe, T.M. Jayaratne, S.A. Pushpa Saman Kumara and Gamini Munasinghe were not found guilty and acquitted and released as insufficient evidence to link them to the murders.
The Attorney General had indicted the five accused on 17 charges in the murder of Gnanapalan Raveendran, Sellamuttu Theivakulasingam, Vilvarajah Pratheepan, Sinniah Vilvarajah, Nadesu Jeyachandran, Kathiran Gnanachandran, Gnanachandran Santhan and Vilvarajah Prasath.
The victims, internally displaced refugees returning to inspect their property, were arrested in a village 16 miles east of Jaffna town. Subsequently they were murdered and buried in a mass grave.