When the five-bench apex court unanimously upheld the high court’s verdict of the death penalty for Duminda Silva and his criminal cohorts, his supporters screamed hysterically saying that they will bring “Sir” to the presidency and get their leader released from prison.
Since then there was a relentless campaign by his brother, who is the owner of one of the two privately-owned major media institutions, which played a highly unethical and extremely biased but effective role in getting Gotabaya Rajapaksa elected as President of SL.
There were numerous media reports which indicated that then-candidate GR promised to pardon Duminda Silva in exchange for a massive media campaign and funding for Rajapaksa’s election campaign. Even though these media reports cannot be independently and individually verified, one can logically conclude that this quid pro quo was true due to the behavior of this media company, and the very close relationship between Duminda Silva and the Rajapaksa family with then-Secretary of Defense, GR. The closeness of their relationship is underscored by the fact that Siva was the monitoring MP of the Ministry of Defense when he committed this heinous crime. This led to the opposition candidate, Mr. Sajith Premadasa, publicly saying that he would not let murderers go free to get support from a TV channel.
It was no secret that there were audio recordings of conversations that came to light involving MP Ranjan Ramanayake with key figures related to the case such as the investigating police officer, and one of the high court judges. Both cases were investigated by the police and no evidence of influencing the court decision was found. If the police need more time to investigate this matter further they should do so, and If credible evidence is found, proper legal action must be taken to let the legal system decide whether the murder conviction has been influenced by a 3rd party. Without doing that, the Rajapaksa regime has allowed a rogue media company to propagate a narrative that the murder conviction of Duminda Silva was not just and proper by repeatedly playing unverified, doctored, and edited audio recordings. This narrative is then disseminated by members of the Rajapaksa regime and the Buddhist clergy who appear on this TV channel and talk about how this murder conviction was influenced, giving the impression to the general public that they are in possession of corroborating evidence. It seems that allowing this media circus to continue, the Rajapaksa regime is not at all concerned about making a mockery of the entire justice system of SL.
SL is facing unprecedented financial, social, short term and long-term challenges at this very moment. As high as 20% or more Sri Lankans are at the risk of having downward social mobility from the lower middle class to below the poverty line. Those who already live below the poverty line are at the risk of going into abject poverty; these two groups comprise well over 50% of the entire population. This trend is only exacerbated by the global pandemic, as noted by Dr. David Nabarro of the WHO. It seems that this socioeconomic catastrophe is not the one that keeping the Rajapaksas, imbecilic government MPs, and some similar opposition MPs awake at night; it was Dumimda Silva’s murder conviction. Opposition MP Mano Ganeshan audaciously said in public that he signed the petition to pardon Duminda Silva on humanitarian grounds because Duminda Silva committed this crime while he was intoxicated. He said this as if this was a petty crime, not a quadruple murder. Although he withdrew his signature recently, at the time he signed it, he must have known this whole exercise appears to give cover for the President to do what he wanted to do in the first place.
It is quite evident that a cabal of scoundrels is in control of SL politically, economically, and socially making most Sri Lankans credulous slaves. With their massive ill-gotten gains, they decide who would be elected leaders and who wouldn’t be from the very top position on down. Hopefully, one day those Sri Lankans would be able to unshackle and free themselves to choose the path of individual freedom and equal opportunity regardless of their race, religious beliefs and other differences. If the pardoning of a quadruple murderer would bring SL closer to the dawning of that day, we as the family can take some solace in this painful chain of events.
Asela Premechandra and Sisters