Jerome Fernando remanded till 13 December

Saturday, 2 December 2023 01:13 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Self-proclaimed Prophet Jerome Fernando was remanded until 13 December by the Colombo Fort Magistrates Court after he was arrested by the Police Criminal Investigations Department (CID) yesterday. 

According to Police Spokesman SSP Nihal Thalduwa, the controversial preacher was arrested under provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Act and penal code concerning several controversial statements made by him especially about Buddhism and the Lord Buddha in May this year. 

Fernando was apprehended after voluntarily appearing before the CID for a second consecutive day of inquiry concerning his statements.  Returning to the country after six months, on Thursday, Fernando visited the CID and underwent an eight-hour interrogation by investigators as per an order issued by the Court of Appeal.

In May, Fernando found himself in hot water after during a sermon he made controversial remarks about other religions, especially Buddhism and the Lord Buddha causing an uproar among Buddhists in the country. The Catholic Church, All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama, and other religious groups slammed Fernando and condemned his statements while the CID launched an investigation on the orders of President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

After the statement and the resulting uproar, the CID secured a travel ban against Fernando from the Fort Magistrate’s Court in May. However, it was later disclosed that the pastor had already left the country by that time. He continued to preach to his followers online from abroad.  Fernando and his parents have also issued multiple apologies regarding his controversial statement.

During his time overseas, an appeal was submitted on his behalf to the Court of Appeal to forestall his arrest. Following a review of the appeal, the Court of Appeal mandated him to furnish a statement to the CID within 48 hours of returning to the country.

Fernando is well known for his connections to powerful and prominent figures in Sri Lanka. His congregation has been growing over the years allowing Fernando to construct a mega church called ‘Miracle Dome’ in Katunayake. 

Financials relating to his church have also come under scrutiny in recent times, especially after an investigation carried out by Al Jazeera delved into yet another self-proclaimed Prophet – Zimbabwean Uebert Angel’s connections to international gold smuggling and money laundering activities. Fernando has publicly acknowledged Angel as his “Spiritual Father”.