MP Athuraliye Rathana was at the forefront of the efforts to obtain a presidential pardon for Jude Shramantha Anthony Jayamaha who murdered the sister of his girlfriend Yvonne Johnson at the Royal Park Apartments in Rajagiriya in 2005, a statement from the President’s Office said yesterday.
Athuraliye Rathana has pledged support to SLPP candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa for the presidential election.
The controversial monk has recently been at the centre of several major controversies, including the false conspiracy to frame Dr Shafi in Kurunegala and the fast unto death to force the Government to sack Muslim MPs after the Easter Sunday attacks.
In an astounding act of callous abuse of his office, President Maithripala Sirisena granted a Presidential pardon to Jude Shramantha Anthony Jayamaha breaching all procedures stipulated in the Constitution.
In his media statement President Sirisena claimed that Rathana had intervened in the matter and arranged a meeting between the President and the convict’s family. The statement said that several requests had also been made by a Catholic bishop, lawyers and retired Supreme Court judge Rohini Marasinghe. The pardon had also been granted on the basis that Jayamaha had been rehabilitated in prison, his young age when he committed the crime and the fact that he had pursued a higher education while being incarcerated, the statement said.
However, Colombo Telegraph learns that Jayamaha – now 32 years old – has also been charged with having a cellphone in his possession while being on death row. President Sirisena has pardoned him for that offence too.
When he was 19, Jayamaha infamously murdered the sister of his girlfriend Yvonne Johnson at the Royal Park luxury apartment complex in 2005, chasing her and physically brutalizing her to death whilst banging her head causing it to fracture in to 64 pieces. Jude Shramantha Anthony Jayamaha is the son of reputed businessman Preethi Jayamaha, the owner of Coronation Bar & Restaurant in Negombo, also owning several highly sought after high end catering services in Colombo.
Kanthi Jayamaha who is the second wife of Preethi Jayamaha is the step mother of Jude Shramantha Anthony Jayamaha. Kanthi Jayamaha is related to Dudley Sirisena, the brother of President Sirisena through her niece.
In an emotional open letter written to the President, Caroline Johnson, the sister of the victim wrote: “I cannot begin to understand how a father of two daughters reached the decision to release this monster?” “She fought for her life, even running from her attacker with broken ankles. I know you didn’t follow due process for this murderer’s release, but did you even take the time to look into this case at all?” “Your silence on the matter since your speech makes me fear we may never know the truth behind your decision, but you will now be attached to this case forever and for all of the wrong reasons”.
The Presidential Media Unit today released an explanatory media release defending the president’s decision. The proviso to Article 34 of the Constitution stipulates that “Provided that where any offender shall have been condemned to suffer death by the sentence of any court, the President shall cause a report to be made to him by the Judge who tried the case and shall forward such report to the Attorney-General with instructions that after the Attorney-General has advised thereon, the report shall be sent together with the Attorney-General’s advice to the Minister in charge of the subject of Justice, who shall forward the report with his recommendation to the President.”
Several constitutional experts opined that President Sirisena had not followed the procedure when granting presidential pardon to Jayamaha.
Posting on Facebook, Saliya Peiris PC said that the release from the President’s Office made it clear that there had been no consultation with the family of the victim at all who too was a young girl when she was murdered. He added that the manner of the killing had not been taken into account when the pardon was granted.
“The Court of Appeal rejected the contention of a sudden provocation. That defence was not taken up in court. Also the court held the killing was done in a cruel and unusual manner. The Accused went through the entire trial and did not seek to enter a plea,” the post on Peiris PC’s Facebook said.
He added that this was not a case taken up along with the cases of all other prisoners young and old serving life sentences. There are other accused too of a young age on death row and serving life sentences. “Some of the elderly prisoners are gravely ill or disabled and yet have to serve their sentences. Other convicts were not given opportunities for their families to meet the powers that be and seek pardons for their families. If they did they too would have been able to present their stories. They too may be able to get recommendations from the prelates in their temples, churches, mosques and kovil,” he explained.
Peiris said that it did not seem that that the recommendations of the Attorney General or the Minister of Justice was obtained.
Furthermore the senior lawyer noted that it appeared that Jayamaha had been given a “free pardon” rather than a “remission”
“If so that means that the conviction has now no consequences at all,” the post added.
Ironically, Jayamaha was prosecuted for the murder of Yvonne Johnson by then Deputy Solicitor General Jayantha Jayasuriya, who currently serves as the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka. The case was landmark in that when it came up for appeal, the convict was sentenced to a graver punishment – that of death – due to the violent nature of the crime.
Women’s groups have expressed outrage about the pardon for Jayamaha.
NPP Presidential Candidate Anura Kumara Dissanayake issued a statement condemning the pardon yesterday.
“We strongly condemn President Maithripala Sirisena for granting a pardon to #RoyalPark murderer arbitrarily. It is a blow to the independence of the Judiciary of #SriLanka and a humiliation to the entire country. This bad precedent should never have happened. The JVP has urged the legal fraternity and the Attorney General to step in to rollback the arbitrary presidential decision to pardon Jayamaha.
Social media users were outraged by the pardon for Jayamaha.
“Her name was Yvonne Jonsson, @MaithripalaS. She was half Sri Lankan. My name is Natsumi Suzuki. I am half Sri Lankan. I could’ve been Yvonne. I condemn you. I condemn your presidency – I will never pardon YOU for this absolutely heartless decision.”