The Homagama High Court today put a damper on President Maithripala Sirisena’s plan to release Galagoda Atte Gnanasara on Presidential pardon on February 04 when it scheduled the verdict on Gnanasara’s appeal against the 06-month imprisonment on February 08.
The High Court was expected to deliver the verdict today. However, Homagama HC Judge Amal Thilekaratne said he was not ready to deliver the verdict today. Therefore, the verdict was scheduled for February 08, raising strong doubts over granting Presidential pardon to the notorious Buddhist monk on Independence Day.
Gnanasara was initially sentenced for six months for contempt of court as he threatened Prageeth Ekneligoda’s wife, Sandhya Ekkneligoda, within the Homagama Magistrate’s Court premises. Gnanasara’s appeal was against the initial conviction.
Several lawyers and legal experts pointed out that with the Homagama HC set to deliver a judgment on February, President Sirisena cannot release the notorious Buddhist monk on February 04. “How can President Maithripala Sirisena grant a pardon on the 4th when an appeal is underway?” Human Rights activist and lawyer Thyagi Ruwanpathirana questioned on Twitter.
However, Buddhist Affairs Minister Gamini Jayawickrema Perera, Ramanna Nikaya, Diyawadana Nilame Pradeep Nilanga Dela of the Sri Dalada Maligawa, Kotte Sri Kalyani Samagi Dharma Maha Sangha Sabha, Mahanayake of the Asgiriya Chapter of the Siam Nikaya, and the Mahanayake of the Malwatte Chapter of the Siam Nikaya have written to the president seeking the release of the controversial monk.
Several allies of President Sirisena including Duminda Dissanayake and Shantha Bandara have already stated that Sirisena is likely to release Gnanasara on February 04. Sirisena has also discussed Ganasara’s release with senior members of the Bodu Bala Sena organization – a militant Buddhist organization led by Gnanasara.