May 23, Colombo: Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena has granted a presidential pardon to the hardline Buddhist monk, Ven. Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thero who is serving a six year jail sentence for contempt of court.
The President has directed the letter of release of the leader of the Bodu Bala Sena organization to the Ministry of Justice today (23). The letter was handed over to the Commissioner General of Prisons, TMJW. Tennakoon by the Secretary to the Ministry of Justice today.
Sri Lanka Prison Department confirmed that they have received the order granting a presidential pardon. Accordingly, Venerable Gnanasara Thera has been released from the Welikada Prison.
The thera was driven out of the Welikada prison hospital through a backdoor, avoiding journalists and hundreds of supporters who gathered outside, AFP reported.
Sri Lanka's Court of Appeal in August 2018 sentenced Gnanasara Thero, who was convicted of four counts of contempt of court, to six years of rigorous imprisonment.
Gnanasara Thero was charged over statements he made and offensive behavior in the Homagama Magistrate court following the hearing of the habeas corpus case with regard to the disappearance of journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda in January 2016.
The Colombo Chief Magistrate Ranga Dissanayake who was the Homagama Magistrate then has filed the petition at the Appellate Court charging the Thero in contempt of court.
Gnanasara Thero was also sentenced to 6 months of rigorous imprisonment in June 2018, for threatening Sandya Ekneligoda, the wife of missing journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda within the Homagama court premises. He was serving the sentences concurrently.
It is reported that the extremist monk has been released from all the charges under the presidential pardon.
Several Buddhist monks, politicians and organizations on many occasions had requested the President to release the Thero.