June 10, Colombo: The Supreme Court was told that the former President Maithripala Sirisena had not followed the accepted legal procedure in granting the presidential pardon and releasing Jude Shramantha Jayamaha, who was sentenced to death in connection with the Rajagiriya, Royal Park murder incident.
President’s Counsel Sanjeewa Jayawardena, appearing for the petitioner, emphasized this yesterday when a fundamental rights (FR) petition filed challenging former President’s decision to grant presidential pardon to Royal Park murder convict Jude Jayamaha was called before the court.
The petition filed by Women’s Media Alliance against his pardon was taken into consideration Friday before the three-member Supreme Court bench consisting of justices S. Thurairajah, Yasantha Kodagoda and Janak de Silva.
Jayamaha, who was serving a death sentence for the brutal murder of a young girl in 2005, was pardoned by the former President Maithripala Sirisena in November 2019.
The President’s Counsel stated that according to the Constitution, before pardoning a convict, it is essential for the President to call for reports from the Attorney General, the judge of the court that imposed the sentence and the Minister of Justice.
But before granting pardon to the convict the then President had not called for a report from the Attorney General, the Minister of Justice or the judges who imposed the relevant sentence, the President’s Counsel alleged.
He further said that it is completely contrary to the provisions of the Constitution.
President’s Counsel Jayawardena pointed out that the then President had commuted the death sentences of 70 death row convicts including Jude Shramantha Jayamaha, to life imprisonment before the presidential pardon was granted to him and released.
The President’s Counsel questioned on what basis 70 convicts were selected from among those sentenced to death to reduce their sentences and pointed out that its transparency has led to a serious problem.
The chairman of the three-judge panel, Judge S. Thurairajah replied that among the people whose sentences were reduced to life imprisonment, there could be people who were convicted not only of murder but also of drug charges.
Therefore, the judge has informed the Additional Solicitor General who represented the Attorney General in open court to find out what the charges against the 70 people are and inform the court.
President’s Counsel Jayawardena mentioned that former President Maithripala Sirisena granted the presidential pardon to Jayamaha even though the Presidential Legal Secretary had informed him that he could not be granted a special presidential pardon.
After that, further hearing of the petition has been adjourned till next Monday.
The petition filed by Women’s Media Alliance Organization names former President Maithripala Sirisena, the Minister of Justice, the President’s Secretary and the Attorney General as respondents.
Jude Shramantha Jayamaha was convicted of the murder of a 19-year-old Swedish teenager Yvonne Jonsson at the luxurious Royal Park Condominiums at Rajagiriya in July 2005. Sri Lanka’s Court of Appeal in 2012, overturning a 12 year prison term imposed by the Colombo High Court, sentenced Jayamaha to death in the murder of Yvonne Jonsson.