Asela Premachandra and sisters
When the five-bench apex court confirmed the death penalty on Duminda Silva and his criminal cohorts for killing Bharatha Laksman Premachandra and three others, his political supporters screamed saying that they would bring “sir” to the presidency and get their leader released from prison.
There was also a relentless and effective campaign to get him released through some sections of the media. This helped ensure a change of government that was to follow.
It was no secret that there were audio recordings of conversations between MP Ranjan Ramanayake and an investigating police officer and a high court judge. Their involvement was investigated by the police and no evidence of influencing the court decision has been found. If the police need more time to investigate this matter further they should do so, and if credible evidence is found, let the legal system decide whether the murder conviction has been influenced by a third party.
But what we see today is a narrative that the murder conviction of Duminda Silva was not just and proper. The campaign is carried out by repeatedly playing unverified, doctored, and edited audio recordings. This narrative is then disseminated by those who talk about how this murder conviction was influenced. They do this as though they are in possession of credible evidence. It seems that allowing this media circus to continue, the regime is not at all concerned about making a mockery of the entire justice system of Sri Lanka
The country is facing an unprecedented economic and social crisis. As high as 20% or more Sri Lankans are at the risk of having downward social mobility from the lower middle class to below the poverty line. Those who already live below the poverty line are at the risk of going into abject poverty; these two groups comprise well over 50% of the population. This trend is only exacerbated by the global pandemic, as noted by Dr. David Nabarro of the WHO.
Instead of addressing this socioeconomic catastrophe, the regime’s politicians, and even some opposition MPs focus on Dumimda Silva’s murder conviction.
Opposition MP Mano Ganeshan audaciously said in public that he signed the petition to pardon Duminda Silva on humanitarian grounds because Duminda committed this crime under the influence of liquor. He said this as if this was a petty crime, not a quadruple murder. Although he withdrew his signature recently, at the time he signed it, he must have known this whole exercise appeared to give cover for the President to do what he wanted to do in the first place.
Hopefully, one day Sri Lankans would be able to unshackle and free themselves to choose the path of freedom and equal opportunity regardless of their race, religious belief and other differences. If the pardoning of a quadruple murderer would bring any closer to the dawning of that day, we as the family can take some solace in this painful chain of events.