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Sri Lankan president pledges to press ahead with death penalty

Sri Lanka’s president pledged that he would press ahead with implementing capital punishment on the island, despite facing a barrage of criticism for the decision.

"I will go ahead with executing drug convicts," said Maithripala Sirisena at an event in Polonnaruwa on Saturday.

An official Sri Lankan government website reported the president as stating, “he would not change the decision taken by the government to implement the death penalty for drug smugglers under any circumstance and despite the objections raised by some factions against the move”.

Mr Sirisena’s decision comes despite warnings that it could lead to the loss of GSP-Plus preferential trade concession from the European Union. Several Western states, including the European Union, wrote to Sri Lanka’s president last week expressing their opposition to the reported resumption of capital punishment.

Undeterred though, the Sri Lankan president vowed to “take necessary steps” to reinstate the death penalty.

A committee is reported to be formed by Mr Sirisena on Tuesday, with the participation of judicial and prison officials, who will decide on who will be hanged and when.