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Rajapaksa pardons nationalist monk convicted of carrying firearms

Former chief monk of the Sri Bodhirajarama temple in Megawatt, Colombo, Uvathenne Sumana, serving life imprisonment for possession of firearms was granted presidential pardon on Sunday.

Diana Gamage, a Samagi Jana Balawegaya  MP, had requested this pardon from the Prime Minister.

Sumana was sentenced at the Colombo High Court in June 2020 for possessing a T-56 firearm during the 2010 presidential election.

Sumana, a strong supporter of the then Presidential candidate and former Army commander Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, was also accused of holding 50 hand grenades and 210 rounds of live ammunition but was acquitted from both charges.

Fonseka has been accused of overseeing Sri Lankan units that bombed hospitals, as well as the execution and torture of surrendees and disappeared civilians amongst a litany of human rights abuses against Tamil civilians and militants in 2009.

Sandeepan, G. Balan and K. Thamil Chelvan who were initially charged along with Sumana and Mawalathenne Sumedha were acquitted following an Attorney General’s notice on 24th June 2018.

Sunday Times Newspaper reports that the pardon is subject to the condition that Sumana withdraws an appeal filed against the sentence.

The last couple of years have seen a rise in controversial pardons on the island. Galagodaaththe Gnanasara, extremist Buddhist monk, who was sentenced to nineteen years for contempt of court was pardoned after serving merely nine months in prison. Last year, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa pardoned Staff Sergeant Sunil Rathnayake, who was sentenced to death over the massacre of eight Tamil civilians.

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