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Monday, February 26, 2024

British court rules Sri Lankan Brigadier guilty after death threats to Tamils

A Sri Lankan brigadier who motioned death threats to Tamil protestors in London last year has been found guilty by a British court of violating the Public Order Act, after a protracted legal battle.

Westminster Magistrate’s Court upheld a previous ruling that Sri Lanka’s Brigadier Priyanka Fernando “is  not  protected  by  diplomatic  immunity”, despite pleas made by Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry.

“I  have  no  doubt  that  the  cut-throat  gestures  were  made  on  4th  February  2018,” said Chief  Magistrate  Emma  Arbuthnot in her ruling earlier today.  It went on to add,

“I  have  no  doubt  he  intended  to  cause  at  the  least  alarm.  They  were  purposeful  gestures,  made  as  the  Brigadier  was  staring  at  these  protesters.  The Brigadier was a senior officer in  uniform  wearing  medals.   Unlike  the  other senior  officer  there,  his  body  language  appeared  to  be  arrogant  and  intimidating.  There were three gestures and not just  one.   In  the  context  of  the  relationship  between Sri  Lanka  and  Tamil  Elam  protesters  he  must  have  known  that  it  would  have  been alarming  at  the  very  least  to  the  protesters  who  saw  him  do  this.”

Fernando was found guilty of violating section 4A of the Public Order Act.

He was attending a celebration at the Sri Lankan High Commission in the UK to mark ‘Independence Day’ at the time, whilst British Tamils held a demonstration outside with placards and Tamil Eelam flags. Sri Lankan officials were also seen photographing the protestors in an apparent act of intimidation.

As part of the military offensive in 2009, Brigadier Fernando fought in Weli Oya and Janakapura for the 11 Gemunu Watch Battalion as part of the 59 Division of the Sri Lankan Army.The United Nations OHCHR Investigation into Sri Lanka detailed multiple incidents, implicating the 59 Division in the shelling of hospitals south of Mullaitivu.



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