BY Buddhika Samaraweera
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID), acting on the order given by the Supreme Court (SC) to arrest former MP Duminda Silva following the special Presidential pardon granted to him by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa being suspended through an interim order, arrested Silva at the Sri Jayewardenepura General Hospital yesterday (1).
Speaking to The Morning, Police Media Spokesman, Senior Superintendent of Police and Attorney-at-Law Nihal Thalduwa said that the suspect had been arrested by the CID when he was being treated at the said hospital last evening. He also said that the CID would make relevant submissions to the SC accordingly.
Sources at the hospital told The Morning yesterday that Silva, who had been admitted to the hospital yesterday morning, was at the neurological ward as of yesterday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Thalduwa said that as per the usual procedure, the CID would take action to apprehend a suspect who is to be arrested, even though they are in a hospital. He further said that the CID would then report the matter to the court.
“Usually in these kinds of cases, the officers of the CID arrest the suspect while they are in the hospital and report the matter to the court. After that, if necessary, the Magistrate will come to the hospital and check their condition. If they are ordered to be remanded, they will either be admitted to the Prison hospital, or Prison officers will be attached to the ward of the hospital where they are being treated,” he explained.
On Tuesday (31), the SC had issued an interim order suspending the special presidential pardon granted to Silva while he was serving a death sentence, and ordered the CID to arrest him. The SC also issued a travel ban on Silva, while Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam PC had been instructed to provide necessary advice and assistance to the CID in that regard.
On 8 September 2016, the relevant High Court found Silva and four of his associates guilty and imposed the maximum penalty, the death sentence, on all of them for the killing of former MP Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra and three of the latter’s supporters. The decision of the Trial-at-Bar was divided with Judges Padmini Ranawaka and Charith Moraes deciding on a guilty verdict on five of the suspects while Judge Shiran Gooneratne (incumbent SC Judge) acquitted the suspects of all the charges.
The Trial-at-Bar decision was later appealed to the SC. A five-judge bench of the SC Presided over by then-Chief Justice (CJ) Priyasath Dep PC, including Justices Buwaneka Aluwihare PC, Priyantha Jayawardena PC, Nalin Perera (later CJ), and Vijith Kumara Malalgoda PC, was appointed to hear the appeal. The SC was unanimous in their decision, and rejected the appeal and upheld the conviction unanimously on 11 October 2018.
However, on 24 June 2021, President Rajapaksa granted a special Presidential pardon to several prison inmates, which controversially included Silva, in view of the Poson Full Moon Poya day.
Subsequently, fundamental rights (FR) petitions were filed by Sumana Premachandra (the wife of the slain Lakshman Premachandra), former Human Rights Commissioner Ghazali Hussain, and several others, challenging the special Presidential pardon granted to Silva. Allowing the hearing of the three FR petitions, the three Judge bench of the SC, comprising Justices Preethi Padman Surasena, Yasantha Kodagoda PC, and Achala Wengappuli, moved to suspend the presidential pardon granted to Silva