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All Sinhala jury frees solider from death penalty for killing 5 Muslims

An Army soldier who was sentenced to death over charges of gunning down 5 Muslims including a child was found not guilty and acquitted by a jury at Anurdhapura High Court.
A seven member jury before the North Central Provincial High Court judge, Sunanda Kumara Ratnayake made the decision following a hearing of evidence.

Army solider of Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment (00737) Gardiya Weligamage Indra Kirthi de Silva a resident of 282/8, Walasbedda, Bandarawela was thus released.

The army soldier was charged under section 296 of the Penal Code for the murder of Abdul Javahir Kaiz(13), Umardeen Meera Sahidu(70), Mohideen Bava Aviva Umeema (65) Kachicha Mohamed Balkis Umeema (30) and Kachichia Mohamed Payas residents of division number 01 of Pulmoddai Police Division .They were allegedly shot to death by the suspect using a machine gun on May 6th or a closer date in 1995 . A case was filed against the suspect by the Attorney General at Anuradhapura High Court.

The case had been hearing for several years and the former High Court Judge Menaka Wijesundara sentenced the convict to death on October 26th,2009.

The convict appealed in a petition requesting for relief to the Court of Appeal in Colombo challenging the decision of the High Court Judge.

Accordingly, the Court of Appeal ordered the case to be heard before a jury at Anuradhapura High Court. The Jury following the hearing of evidence found him not guilty and acquitted on all charges.

After coming out of the court premises the army soldier happily stated that he did not commit the crime.

“From the day I received the death sentence I meditated following Buddhist teachings. I begged the Gods to free me as I was punished for crime which I did not commit. I had faith on them”, he said.

J.D Nilsuha Shaymali, A .M Nanda Kumari, Anula Kumari Ratnayake, Piaysenage Kumarasena, Malani Hewa Pathirana, Lakshan Dayasiri and Disanayake Weerasinghe were amongst the jury members, while State Counsel Agbo Panditharatne appeared on behalf of the aggrieved party and Attorney at Law Bharana Kubalathara appeared on behalf of the accused party.


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