Sri Lanka pardons death row military man convicted for killing people in civil war

Colombo, Mar 26 (PTI) Sri Lankan President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has pardoned a death row soldier convicted of killing eight people, including a child in the country's Tamil-dominated Northern province in 2000 during the civil war.

Staff Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake was convicted in June 2015 by the High Court here and his appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Court in 2019.

Ratnayake was charged of killing 8 civilians including a child when he was serving in the military in the north in 2000 where the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the military were fighting.

Ratnayake and 13 other armymen were charged by the then government when Tamil politicians and human rights groups pressed for justice.

Nine of them were later released without charge. While Ratnayake was convicted of 15 counts, four of his colleagues were acquitted as there was no evidence against them.

President Rajapaksa in his election campaign leading to his victory in November last year had pledged to release military men convicted during his predecessor Maithripala Sirisena’s government.

The Sirisena government had commenced trials against some military men for alleged rights abuses.

The LTTE ran a military campaign for a separate Tamil homeland in the northern and eastern provinces of the island nation for nearly 30 years before its collapse in 2009 after the Sri Lankan Army killed its supreme leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. PTI CORR RUP RUP