By Sujeeva Nivunhella in London
Chief Magistrate of Westminster Magistrate’s Court, Emma Arbuthnot tendered an apology for the ‘administrative mishandling’ of former Sri Lankan military attache, Brigadier Priyanka Fernando’s public order offence case, when hearing resumed on Friday.
She has revoked the previous arrest warrant saying that she did not know how such a sensitive case went to trial without it “ever coming across to my desk”.
When the arrest warrant was issued at the last hearing, Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Aryasinghe met with the British High Commissioner in Colombo and referred to the Vienna Convention on diplomatic immunity, which resulted in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office giving a certificate to Court explaining Fernando’s diplomatic status.
The Chief Magistrate adjourned the case till March 1, 2019, to ‘further discuss the immunity issue’. The Court will also determine whether the action of Brigadier Fernando would constitute a Public Order Offence.
The private prosecution against Fernando was initiated by Majuran Sathananthan and four others after the military attache made a cut-throat gesture at Tamil protesters, who demonstrated opposite the Sri Lanka High Commission in London during last year’s Independence Day celebrations. After the incident, Fernando was recalled to Colombo.
At the hearing on Friday, there were Tamil protesters demonstrating outside the Magistrate’s Court.