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Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court overturns presidential pardon for Park Royal murder

Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court has issued a rare ruling overturning a former president Maithripala Sirisena’s pardon of Jude Shramantha Jayamaha, over the 2005 Royal Park murder.

Sirisena granted Jude Shramantha Jayamaha a presidential pardon in 2019, following his conviction and sentencing to death by the Supreme Court in 2012. The conviction was in respect of the 2005 murder of Yvonne Johnson in what is known as the ‘Royal Park’ murder case. At the time, Sirisena said senior Buddhist monks had campaigned for his release. Sirisena had called the murder an "incident of impatience".

The decision comes 5 months after the landmark overturning of former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s presidential pardon of Duminda Silva, who, alongside four others, was convicted in 2016 for the 2011 murder of politician Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra.

Following a fundamental rights petition submitted by the Women and Media Collective, the Supreme Court three-judge-bench annulled former Sirisena’s pardon based on the ruling that it had violated constitutional provisions. The Supreme Court declared that Sirisena had deliberately violated the fundamental rights of the petitioner and the public trust doctrine in the granting of the presidential pardon.

In light of the judgement, authorities were ordered by the Supreme Court to take necessary legal steps in ensuring the implementation of the sentence against Jayamaha. Jayamaha is currently abroad, suspected to be in Singapore, after leaving Sri Lanka in 2019 and the Attorney General has been instructed to initiate extradition processes.

A presidential pardon was used to release Sri Lankan soldier Sunil Ratnayake, one of the murderers responsible for the Mirusuvil massacre. The massacre, occurring on December 20, 2000, involved the arrest and subsequent murder of eight internally displaced refugees, allegedly by Sri Lankan Army soldiers. Ratnayake, found guilty of the murders in 2015, was pardoned and released in March 2020 by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

He remains free to this day.

Read more:

Sri Lanka pardons soldier imprisoned over massacre of Tamils

Revisiting the Mirusuvil massacre

Justice reversed for victims of the Mirusuvil massacre - Amnesty

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