Amnesty commends sentences, appeals for clemency
[TamilNet, Sunday, 05 July 1998, 23:59 GMT]
The international human rights watchdog Amnesty International commended the sentences passed on the six accused security forces personnel in the Krishanthi Kumaraswamy rape and murder case, but also said that it will go through the formality of asking the Sri Lanka President for clemency because it did not believe in the death sentence.
Amnesty said the sentences would send a strong signal to Sri Lankan security forces and police that violations of human rights would not be tolerated.
Amnesty International is among a host of international and local human rights organisations which have consistently condemned the Sri Lankan government for not taking strong enough measures against Sri Lanka security forces personnel accused of human rights violations.
Meanwhile, counsel looking after the interests of the accused said that they might be appealing against the sentence given by the High Court of Colombo.
The trial -at - bar comprising Nimal Dissanayake, High Court Judge, Colombo (President), Gamini Abeyratne, High Court Judge, Negombo and Andrew Somawansa, High Court Judge, Balapitiya,
sentenced the six security forces personnel to death yesterday for the abduction, rape and murder of Jaffna schoolgirl Krishanthi Kumaraswamy, and the murder of three other people, including her
mother and brother, in September 1996
The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th and 8th accused, comprising five soldiers and one reserve police constable, were sentenced to death, while the 5th accused Wijeananda Alwis died and two - Pathiranalage Nishantha (9th accused) and Dehigaspitiye Muthubanda (6th accused) - were discharged. Muthubanda was discharged not necessarily because of his innocence, but for the lack of evidence.
Of the accused given the death sentence, Indrajith Kumar (8th accused), is absconding.
The accused were charged with unlawful assembly, abduction with the view of committing illegal intercourse and the murder of Krishanthi Kumaraswamy on September 7, 1996. The accused were also charged for the abduction and murder of Krishanthi's mother Rasamma, brother Pranavan and neighbour Kirubamurthy.
The 1st accused, Corporal Rajapakse, was found guilty of the abduction and rape of Krishanthi and the murder of all four victims. He was given 10 years rigorous imprisonment (RI) and 50,000
rupees fine for abduction, 20 years RI for rape and the death sentence for murdering all four victims.
Second accused, Jayasinghe, was given 20 years RI for rape and the death penalty for murdering all four victims.
The 3rd accused, Reserve Police Constable Priyadarshana, found guilty of the abduction, rape and murder of Krishanthi was sentenced to 20 years RI and 50,000 rupees fine in addition to the
The 4th accused Priyantha Perera was found guilty of abduction, rape and murder of Krishanthi and the murder of the other three victims. He was sentenced 20 years RI and imposed the death
Seventh accused Jayatilleke, found guilty of the rape of Krishanthi and the murder of her mother was given 20 years RI and the death penalty.
Eight accused, Indrajith Kumar, absconding, found guilty of murdering Pranavan and Kirubamurthy was given the death sentence and a warrant for his arrest was issued by court.