BY Buddhika Samaraweera
Former MP Duminda Silva, who was arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) following the special presidential pardon granted to him by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa being suspended through a Supreme Court (SC) interim order, is currently receiving treatment at the Sri Jayewardenepura General Hospital under the special protection of Prison Officers, said the Prisons Department.
Commissioner of Prisons (Administration, Rehabilitation, and Skill Development) (Covering Up Duties) and Prisons Department Media Spokesman Chandana Ekanayaka stated that Silva, who was taken into the custody of Prisons Officers, is currently receiving treatment at the hospital under their special protection.
Silva had been arrested by the CID when he was being treated at the said hospital on Wednesday (1). At the time of the arrest, the former MP was at the neurological ward of the hospital.
Meanwhile, Police Spokesman, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) and Attorney-at-Law (AAL) Nihal Thalduwa said that as it is the SC that had ordered the suspect’s arrest, the CID has handed over the suspect to Prisons Officers.
On Tuesday (31 May), 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 split 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 thereby rejected the appeal and upheld the conviction 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.