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Pardon of Sri Lanka soldier is ‘delightful news’ says Sinhala Buddhist monk

Photograph: JDS Lanka

A Sinhala Buddhist monk has praised Sri Lanka’s pardon of a soldier who was convicted over the massacre of Tamil civilians, calling it “delightful news”.

Buddhist monk Medille Pannaloka stated that Sri Lanka’s defence secretary Kamal Gunaratne, who is also accused of overseeing war crimes, called him personally to inform him of Staff Sergeant Sunil Rathnayake’s pardon.

“This morning Defence Secretary Kamal Gunaratne phoned me and said that he has to convey a delightful news,” JDS Lanka quoted the monk as stating. “He went to the Welikada prison with his troops and released him and sent him home,” he added.

Rathnayake served in the Gajaba Regiment, which Gunarate and current Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa once commanded.

Pannaloka went on to state that Gunaratne was fulfilling a pledge that the soldier would be released before the Sri Lankan new year in April. For years there have been several campaigns in the south to secure his release.