Lanka frees 5 Indian fishermen facing death sentence

Saturday 29th November 2014 14:38 EST

Colombo: Five Indian fishermen sentenced to death in Sri Lanka for alleged drug trafficking were released last week after President Mahinda Rajapaksa pardoned them. Prison officials said the five have been handed over to the immigration authorities for further action.

“We are pleased to confirm that five Indian fishermen, who were sentenced to death by the Colombo High Court on October 30, 2014, were released from prison for being sent back to India,” an Indian High Commission statement said. “We are deeply grateful to Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka, for this humanitarian gesture, which will further strengthen the strong and multi-faceted relations between India and Sri Lanka,” it said.

“President Mahinda Rajapaksa issued a presidential pardon for them,” Presidential spokesman Mohan Samaranayake said. “We would like to thank President Mahinda Rajapaksa for remitting the sentence of five Indian fishermen and release them from jail,” Indian high commissioner Y K Sinha said. Sinha met the five fishermen after their release to ascertain their well being.

Rajapaksa's move to pardon the five comes less than a week before the SAARC summit in Nepal which will be attended by him and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Emerson, P Augustus, R Wilson, K Prasath and J Langlet, all hailing from Tamil Nadu, were apprehended in 2011 and were sentenced to death by the Colombo High Court on October 30 for alleged drug trafficking. India on November 11 had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka against a verdict of the high court awarding death sentence to them. Rajapaksa and Modi had a telephonic conversation last week on the issue.

comments powered by Disqus

to the free, weekly Asian Voice email newsletter