26 October, 2020

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Seyas Case Is Perfect Example Against Death Penalty

By Vimukthi Caldera

Vimukthi Caldera

Vimukthi Caldera

As the government takes attempts to redress the claims of the previous regime in terms of Human Rights concerns at the international Council, our general public have been wreaking havoc trying to bring “justice” to Seya by re-introducing the death penalty. Even more interesting is that the strongest advocates for it are the very religious groups of Buddhists. I wonder if anyone saw the irony in seeing the girls in lama saree at the petitions. On the one hand the nation gives the outlook of being the “Great Buddhist Nation” or the “Dharma Rajya” while on the other hand, the general public demands the death of criminals. Those protesting for the punishment can hopefully take this time to actually go through criminal record statistics of the last few years across the country. Seya’s case is not new – we have just been ignorant as a whole. Within the week of Seya’s case alone, there were 6 other cases reported within the news media. And those were incidents that were actually reported.

The biggest argument for the death penalty considers how “research” has proven that it acts as a deterrent on criminal minded personnel. To be honest, depending on how one looks at it, there are statistics to both prove and disprove this statement. The first question we should ask then is whether a rapist while kidnapping an individual will actually stop to think “Oh my gosh now if I get caught I will surely face the death penalty”. It does not work that way. Deterrence does not come easy.

However, since the general public is bent on using Seya’s case to argue for it, let me elaborate why it provides the perfect justification not to. There are several problems associated with her case. As much as the situation is tragic and heartbreaking to hear or even think about, the first problem in the whole scenario lies with the fact that her parents had space for neglect. The “kondaya’s” (criminal’s) confession stated that he simply walked through an unlocked door, despite having seen that the open window (which did not have reinforcing metal bars) provided easy access to the house. While we sit around blaming the criminal, we did not think about the fault of the parents. You would assume that in today’s world, parents would take extra measures to take care of their children. Yet, not over a week after Seya’s death, I came across a child with a group of Policemen trying to locate the mother, at the Colombo Book Fair. I could not guess the age of the kid but I guess he was not much older than Seya herself because the mother was breastfeeding her son as soon as she collected him from the Police.

The second main problem with the case lies in how the general public did not think about the criminal’s situation at least for the sake of it. Print media did a great job of plastering the case like it was some Agatha Christie novel. When the background and details of the kondaya were investigated his mother was reported to have said that he had not been to school in his entire life. This is very frightening for several reasons. 1. We boast a free education and 98% literacy rate. The question then arises how, even after receiving cloth for uniforms, free books and access to free education as a whole, this single mother was unable to send her son to school. 2. This was in Gampaha. What then are we to say about kids living in Angunukolapalassa or Eppawala? 3. Kondaya is 32 years old and is part of the current labour force – a group of individuals who are the backbone of the country. This is a very recent case and it is extremely worrying, for we just generally assume that every child across the country goes to school. So if we were to actually take measures towards deterrence, then we should be considering ways of fixing up our education system. Providing access to free education doesn’t solve everything.

The third problem lies with the fickle nature of the general public. We were so worried about Seya that we forgot about her sibling(s) who will need measures to be settled into a normal childhood. The trauma of being her sibling and the fear, sorrow, anger and confusion they will grow up with must not be things any child should worry about. If we were so compassionate about our children we would be concerned about the therapy and rehabilitation projects needed. Additionally we were quick to dismiss kondaya as the criminal while the 17 year old “suspect” underwent much harsher treatment and embarrassment. The Police also easily dismissed the fact that the “suspects’” faces were released on mass media as a matter of circumstance and not error. The true level of compassion was visible when citizens “shared” the image of the dead infant widely on Facebook – so much for respect for the dead.

The last main problem appears from the human rights perspective. Every human being has a right to life – the ability to continue living rather than dying. This includes criminals. There are various other punishments that we can endorse to correct the wrongs of these individuals and the death penalty is not one. Kondaya, for example, could actually benefit from a life sentence without parole.

To be honest, there are a host of activities we can undertake to seek justice for Seya and other kids alike. Killing to prove that killing is bad is flawed logic in itself. Several errors and issues had to collide in order for kondaya to be able to commit the crime. The door being unlocked, the mother having fallen asleep out of fatigue, the window not being secured, the father having to work till late, the single mother not being able to send her son to school three decades ago were all issues surrounding the case. Economic hardships must have been quite large for her father to be working late in the night while the mother also works as hard – so much so that it leads to the neglect of her child. These are not recent problems neither are they only ones. They have been lying around for quite a while and culminated to produce the unwanted result. Before we even begin speaking of the death penalty we must start to think about and fix these surrounding issues of society first. It is easy to assign the death penalty to someone but it is not the solution.

“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the wise cannot see all ends.” (J.R.R. Tolkien)

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  • 15
    3

    Vimukthi Caldera

    You can count on me if and when you launch a campaign against capital punishment.

    You can count on Spring Koha, Ben Hurling and others as well.

    We say no to Capital Punishment.

    We say no to Capital Punishment.

    We say no to Capital Punishment.

    We say no to Capital Punishment.

    We say no to Capital Punishment.

    • 1
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      [Edited out]

      • 3
        0

        The main suspect in the Seya murder should be her father who has already got a case against him for sex crime.

        Sri Lankan society is in denial about INCEST, sexual and domestic violence within the family. This was happening in that household most likely and something went wrong that night that the poor girl died.

        Kondaya is a classic SCAPEGOAT because he is a wildman. That does not mean he is guilty and I doubt that DNA tests unless fixed will show this.

        Seya’s father should be DNA tested.

    • 7
      1

      yes,yes,yes,yes,yes to the death penalty.Not only that,the judge who gave kondaya 10 months RI in 2010 for abducting a child and trying to rape her before she managed to escape should also be hanged.He is responsible for seya’s death because if he had locked this bugger up for 25 years at least which was the fitting punishment,then this girl would have been saved.Not only the death penalty should be reintroduced,the judges who give lenient sentences also should be cleaned out of the judiciary,like cleaning a virus from a computer.

      The bail system also should be revamped.After he came out of the 10 months RI,kondaya was arrested for a break and enter and was allowed bail.He absconded and lived with his sister and found a job and it was at this time that he committed the crime.Who gave bail to this bastard?Why did the police not visit his sister when he jumped bail,because that would have been one of the places to see if he was there?Why is the sister not arrested for keeping a SOB like this?The whole fucking Justice system and police need a clean up.

      • 2
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        Well said, point blank.

    • 4
      2

      I am for capital punishment and strengthened laws

      • 3
        3

        Johnny

        We say no to Capital Punishment.

        We say no to Capital Punishment.

        We say no to Capital Punishment.

        If you are for capital punishment why haven’t you applied for the esteemed post of hangman?

        If you enjoy watching and reading people being judicially murdered there may be others who would want to see you being hung by your b***s.

        Look back on your own past life, you will see infinite number of incidents in which you are directly or indirectly involved, which by your standard, could have warranted you being subjected to capital punishment many times over.

        And I suspect those who demand capital punishment have some thing to hide. What is it?

        • 1
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          Kalu Vedda,
          We should be practical, not emotional when we deal with crimes against humanity, death penalty is one of those.

          Strengthened laws , speedy justice like what we had for Krishanthi Kumaraswamy case Trial at Bar are others.

          • 2
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            John

            “Strengthened laws , speedy justice like what we had for Krishanthi Kumaraswamy case Trial at Bar are others.”

            Tell me about what exactly happened in that case. Where are the other bodies that had been buried in and around where she was rapped and killed?

            How many of the perpetrators been actually charged and punished?

            Speedy trials have nothing to do with capital punishment.

            Capital punishment has never been an effective deterrent. It only serves your perverted sense of justice, feeds your insatiable need for being hypocrite, a dehumanizing process which makes others less than human enables you to feel free of guilt of another murder, only satisfies your sadistic nature and soothe your ego for being macho, ………..

            Be a man/woman, oppose capital punishment. Don’t be morally repugnant coward hiding behind medieval form of justice and punishment.

            Get a life.

            • 0
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              Vaddo,
              How many were punished ? 06 army men were sentenced to death , they are still in jail waiting to be hanged to death.

              What about killing animals by Vaddo ?

              • 2
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                Jonny

                “What about killing animals by Vaddo?”

                What about Hindus and Buddhists practicing ahimsa?

                Ahimsa:

                is defined as respect for all living things and avoidance of violence towards others.

                Thanks for the information let the six rot in prison. They may consider converting themselves into Born Again Christians.

                We say no to Capital Punishment.

    • 2
      1

      Vedda,
      What punishment do you suggest to the Kotakethana murderer if it happens to be one serial killer?
      Capital punishment happens to be as old as humanity and no religion(that I know of)interferes with laws of the land and punishments meted out.
      It is only the human rights merchants who came to be around 20 years ago are the ones promoting abolishen.
      Not every crime is punished with capital punishement,only the very grave crimes get capital punishent.
      They get many appeals to higher courts before the actual punishment.
      Rights come with responsibility and those who shunned their responsibilty by the society has to be punished in relation to their crime.
      First degree murder,Drug dealing and peddling,which destroy the youth of the country,at least must be eliminated for good as it has been proven that just putting them in jail is not an answer.Infact they do better with state protection.

      • 2
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        NAK

        “What punishment do you suggest to the Kotakethana murderer if it happens to be one serial killer?”

        Please refer to my previous comments on capital punishment. .

        “Capital punishment happens to be as old as humanity and no religion(that I know of)interferes with laws of the land and punishments meted out.”

        Please refer to my previous comments on capital punishment.

        “It is only the human rights merchants who came to be around 20 years ago are the ones promoting abolishen.”

        Please refer to my previous comments on capital punishment.

        “Not every crime is punished with capital punishement,only the very grave crimes get capital punishent. They get many appeals to higher courts before the actual punishment.”

        Please refer to my previous comments on capital punishment.

        “Rights come with responsibility and those who shunned their responsibilty by the society has to be punished in relation to their crime.”

        Please refer to my previous comments on capital punishment.

        “First degree murder,Drug dealing and peddling,which destroy the youth of the country,at least must be eliminated for good as it has been proven that just putting them in jail is not an answer.Infact they do better with state protection.”

        Please refer to my previous comments on capital punishment.

        You are suffering from murderous rage and intent and your sole purpose is to murder someone somewhere in this island in order to satisfy your sadistic sense of pleasure. You cannot wash it with your own perverted sense of justice.

        Any reasonable caring person should worry about your wife if you have one and if she still share your bed.

        We say no to capital punishment.

        • 1
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          Thank you Vedda,I am enlightened! you have made it very clear with your reasoning why there should be “No to capital punshment”
          You are way beyond the line making judgements on others being sadistic and or perverted.
          The same can be applied for your sympathy for murderes and drug dealers!
          (For your information I do not keep stock of your previous comments)

          • 1
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            Jonny

            “What about killing animals by Vaddo?”

            What about Hindus and Buddhists practicing ahimsa?

            Ahimsa:

            is defined as respect for all living things and avoidance of violence towards others.

            Thanks for the information let the six rot in prison. They may consider converting themselves into Born Again Christians.

            We say no to Capital Punishment.

          • 1
            0

            NAK

            “Thank you Vedda,I am enlightened! you have made it very clear with your reasoning why there should be “No to capital punshment”

            Are you grateful to my Elders who thought me why killing another human being is wrong?

    • 1
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      NV thanks & Vimukthi Duwa-excellent essay,
      Thanks. I agree with you both in to to.I do not even trust DNA tests…either way. In a so called civilized world with many sociological ,cultural and sexist problems C.P. should not have any place.
      I have my suspicion on the parents as well. I am in my 70s… I have known cases … straight from the victims’ mouths … some fathers/uncles/cousins spare virginity and some do not. Some who lose virginity do not ever get married, but put the blame on the horoscopes (I do not believe in horoscopes.)As Vimukthi Duwa mentioned our SL society has many problems which have not been addressed properly. I do not know how some jump at the idea of restoring the Death Penalty.

      • 3
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        Citizen Perera

        Thanks for your observations.

        We need more wise people like you to come out and put some wisdom into those stupid talking heads.

        We should strive to seek justice for the victims and their kith and kin, not meting out retribution.

        Compassion should be the basis of good governance, which does not mean letting the guilty go scott free.

        We say no to capital punishment.

  • 4
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    Ms. Vimukthi Caldera

    RE: Seyas Case Is Perfect Example Against Death Penalty.

    Vimukthi, means Liberation. Do you want the criminals to be liberated from the death penalty, after they commit their crimes?

    Thanks for a thoughtful write up.

    1. “Even more interesting is that the strongest advocates for it are the very religious groups of Buddhists. I wonder if anyone saw the irony in seeing the girls in lama saree at the petitions. On the one hand the nation gives the outlook of being the “Great Buddhist Nation” or the “Dharma Rajya” while on the other hand, the general public demands the death of criminals.”

    So, Buddhism does not work? The victim was Buddhist and the Criminals likely Buddhist. It will be true for other religions as well.

    So, despite being a Buddhist, the criminal committed a crime on a Buddhist child. This is true for other religions as well.

    2. “The first question we should ask then is whether a rapist while kidnapping an individual will actually stop to think “Oh my gosh now if I get caught I will surely face the death penalty”. It does not work that way. Deterrence does not come easy.”

    “The question then arises how, even after receiving cloth for uniforms, free books and access to free education as a whole, this single mother was unable to send her son to school. 2. This was in Gampaha.”

    He did not wear the uniforms, did not take advantage of the free books, free school, and the mother was unable or did nor report the child for not attending school.

    So, the problem is a problem of the society, despite religion, free uniforms, free books and free schooling, did not address. Why? Because the parent, mother not participate.

    So, the society needs to have a neighborhood watch that identify such cases and are reported to authorities, and use use peer community pressure to correct it.

    Yes. death penalty will not solve the problem. There will be more criminals, born and yet to be born, in Gampaha and elsewhere, in Lanka, the Land of Native Veddah Aethho.

    It is a problem of the society. However, selected criminals, need to be hanged, not in the thousands, but in the tens. The criminals need to understand that there is a chance they will be caught and that there is a chance that they will be hanged.

    By the way, have you given thought to the 2500 fatalities that happen every year in the Sri Lankan roads?

  • 8
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    Vimukthi

    The crux of your argument against death penalty should have been more to expose what happened to that 17 year old suspect in the Seya’s case. It is now established that Police quickly pounced on this boy and sent him to remand prison without reasonably valid evidence.

    Unfortunately,instead of highlighting this as a solid argument against death penalty you are only making a passing reference to what happened to that boy.

    If you do more research you find several cases in the United States where people sent to gallows had later turned out to be innocent.

    More than any reasons of human rights and right to life, the fact that no judicial system is infallible should be the reason why we should have no death penalty.

    • 1
      0

      Naga,

      “It is now established that Police quickly pounced on this boy and sent him to remand prison without reasonably valid evidence.”

      Has the alleged police violence against the two accused (17 and 33 years old) been establised or admitted? I believe that it is still a claim despite the two accused been hospitalised.

      As we all know nothing is likely to happen to the policemen accused of violence in this and other similar cases.

      Here in Jaffna we all too often hear that the police picked up a suspect who only after a beating etc confessed. I know one young man who apparently became hard of hearing because of the interrogation methods of the police.

      If there is anything good in this case of the 17 and 33 year old men it is the fact that the police mistreats all suspects regardless of their ethnic background.

      How would the police have treated the accused if they had been sons of the powerful? Politely asked them to give a statement when it suits them?

    • 1
      0

      Naga,
      Your case is very weak. It hinges on an arrest and subsequent release. To be at all convincing your case should have been based on a wrongful conviction. If the possibility that wrongful arrests may be made is your argument against the death penalty god help your sense of logic.

      [PS: My argument in this comment has nothing to do with whether the death penalty is right or wrong]

  • 2
    1

    What about the Death penalty for White Van Murders?

    Is it the Instigator, or those who actually carried out the Deed, who will face the Death Penalty?

  • 0
    0

    The problems of society with regard to income and social values that you have highlighted are very valid. However they are prevalent in many other Countries as well.

    To counter the anti death penalty lobby, purely as a devil’s advocate :

    This confessed criminal belongs to the dregs of society.

    He has confessed to a heinous crime.

    Why should he be allowed to live ?

    What use will he be ?

    There is also a very high probability that he will do it again if released.

    If locked away he will cost the tax payer money for the next 50 years !

  • 2
    1

    Government should have realized the issues when the country topped two times sex searching list in the Google…! anyway just talk about few concerns ….

    Here in Sri Lanka the problem is that nobody understand what is the root cause of these problems and they never ever address such issues to prevent in the society . it is surprise that intellectuals also just talking about the last process of the criminal justice without thinking to address the real issues.

    we have such a poor criminal justice system, and police is struggling to catch the right person and our enforcement authorities are so weak in their mechanism in investigation, and proper enforcement. even though police catches the right criminal ineffective prosecution and trial let the criminals be out of the box. due to these inefficiencies cases are adding up and which leads to huge delay and pending the cases for number of years and our system of corruption and interference help criminal to easily bypass the law.

    Additionally, our criminal justice system does not have right punishment and our system is only fit to punish small fish with big punishment !

    Therefore rather thinking end process at the first which never ever proved that punishment has significant influence in preventing crimes!. No individual think range of punishments before committing a crime!

    First we should adopt a better strategy to find out root causes of such crimes and those finding should be analyzed and should implement a better prevention methods in creating just society. In this regards police should be reformed and given excellent training in prevention, investigation and enforcement etc.. specially they should be free from any influence!

    we have to modernize our justice system and it needs immediate reforms to bring effective prosecution and trial and courts should be given more infrastructure in terms of physical, soft and human to speed up processes and close cases within a time frame, to do this other authorities should support and closely work with them .

    Further our justice system should function independently and free from interference and they should be transparent in all cases and processes etc. importantly processes and judgments should be checked and balanced. There should be an enforcing and non enforcing code to judges, lawyers and other legal professions!

    Number of our laws have out dated fines and punishments. These laws should be updated to address current issues and future possible issues as well and it should focus to give right punishment to create a just society, the ultimate goal of any legal system.

    Government should start reforming our education system to address modern needs and issues and also they should include basic laws, human right, rights of others, victims and witness as well and also they should start to educate ethical practices through education.

    In addition to all above better social awareness programs should be implemented to educate general public as a whole

    Through these, we can start to create a better society where every system try to create…!!

    Thanks

  • 1
    0

    Ms. Vimukthi Caldera has written a thought provoking article.

    One aspect that she highlighted is a life sentence without parole. My question is all about parole. Prison authorities treat a life sentence as a twenty year sentence and start giving bonuses resulting the criminal, originally sentenced to death and being commuted to life imprisonment leaving the prison typically 7 to 8 years time.

    Let the constitutional position hold. The President, if and when he commutes a death sentence to life imprisonment leave it at that and give no further concessions. The whole question of parole must be examined. If it is indiscriminately given why on earth must there be a sentence fixing a period of imprisonment because that period ultimately has no meaning.

  • 1
    0

    Forget about death penalty, if system gives maximum punishment like 1)lifetime prison term for murders and 2)maximum term for rapist and kidnappers things will improve.

    But our system even the murder will come out in 10-15 years .
    Rapist will be bailed out due to lack of evidence(how can teenage girl give evidences against money minded lawyers who will make innocent victim embarrass in front of crowd in court room). Kidnappers will escape they are supporters of politicians

    Even Syea murder was arrested previously for similar cases but stay out due to system

    Change the system to have special courts for teenage rape cases do a quick run and finished in few weeks or couple of months have close door hearings(Even if the lawyer appears for rapist think next it will be my wife or daughter criminal will get real punishment)

  • 0
    1

    This [Edited out] author is only thinking of the perpetrator and shedding tears for him and trying to blame the parents for working late and keeping unlocked doors.Everyone makes mistakes in life and we should not blame them.I remember the grief i felt when i did not take my old dog to the hospital after midnight thinking he will be okay till the morning and he died.I felt i had let down my companion of 13 years very badly and suffered a lot for years,even now.

    As for kondayas [Edited out] education that this [Edited out] author seems to be harping about,that bugger went to school but dropped out because he is not a fully evolved human and preferred to be in the jungles and eat fish he caught raw.We all evolved from animals but some have not completed the process.

  • 4
    0

    Vimukthi
    Not only human beings, but all living beings have a right to life.

    Thank you for a thought provoking write-up.

    One other aspect that needs wider discussion is how the criminal comes to be what he or she is. We do bring some conditions and personality traits from birth. However, our environment including family, upbringing, neighbours, community, education/learnings, experiences, the society at large, etc. has a significant influence in defining and making us what we are ………… so can we hold the criminal solely responsible for his or her actions? ………… and is it right that we play God in meting out punishment taking a person’s life?

  • 1
    1

    your arguments are really weird , in other words you try to put part of the blame for the victim’s family , thank god you didn’t blame the little girl for being careless of her own safety . listen , Kondaya is a criminal and a psychopath , he had been praying for his pray for far too long , on that fateful day he was lucky , if not he would have tried another day , since Kondaya is an extremely dangerous sick person , he would have tried on a different child , he simply couldn’t get out of his mental sickness by himself , that man seriously needed urgent professional help ,it wasn’t there for him , that was the bottom line .
    As to the death penalty issue , yes i agree , it will never solve the problem .my suggestion is , Law & order agencies need to be more vigilant on paedophiles , there must be a robust mechanism prior to release them in to the society , not only that but also a supervision mechanism to monitor them after their release , may be informing the locals about the potential danger they might encounter , strict parole conditions , awareness campaigns against paedophiles , long sentences etc.

    As for education , there must be a law which states ” every child above 5 years of age , must attend school ” in Japan . it’s illegal and an offence to keep a child at home without sending to a school.

    • 1
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      Great comment Srilal.

      supervision mechanisms of varied kind work in developed world in this regard. Most of all, GPS control ankel bands help police where the former high criminal/paedophiles are just roaming. With Internet facilities improving every corners of the country, why not today s lanken police monitor anykind of high criminals in this manner, including mafia family memembers – one would have no trust on them at all.

      • 0
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        Dear Sama ,

        Thanks , yes you are right . GPS monitoring system is a one way to find out the movements of the criminals , beside that there are many other methods which western world adopt in controlling the paedophiles’ crimes . perhaps it’s time for SL law & order agencies to think out of the box .

        Cheers Sama.

        • 0
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          Suppose we would ask lanken justice system to use ankel bands for Rajapakshes – considering all the high crimes they deliberately had gone through… then that will definitely be a great achievement to restore law and order system of the country.

        • 0
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          [Edited out]

  • 2
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    Vimukthi,

    We should experience such situation to comment.
    Easy to explain with high caliber vocabulary but must find the reality of every indecent which took place in the past. Since there is no heavy penalty for a wrong doer they have taken this existing law of punishment into granted. Has to be punish hard for others to re think before they commit any such crimes.

  • 6
    0

    Vimukthi you wouldnt say this if someone near and dear to you was the victim (Pray it doesnt happen to anyone close to you). You maybe a sister or a daughter or maybe a future mother so put yourself in the shoes of Seyas mother because she is also a daughter of someone,a sister maybe and also the mother of Seya.

    Vimukthi one swallow doesnt make a summer just because the Police faulted but made amends doesnt mean that all rapist murderers should not go the gallows.

    Vimukthi dont you have a speck of sympathy for Seyas mother who has lost a beautiful child of 5 years. only because a brute had picked this innocent young girl asleep next to her mum only to be carried away in her sleep and then heartlessly raped and viciously murdered.
    Vimukthi we need Justice and if this man monster could snuff out an innocent life who may have had a bright future ahead HE MUST PAY WITH HIS LIFE and nothing more.
    Thats JUSTICE Vimukthi. If he is hanged its a dire warning for any would be rapist murderers lurking out there that if they dare do such dastardly crimes the rope will be round their necks too.
    So please have a heart and stop sympathising with this monster and think of the victims innocent family and how the mother and her siblings are going to live their life with this trauma in the years ahead.

  • 1
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    Dear Ms. Vimukthi

    Your article is something i greatly appreciate, as this is something we cannot hear from the common man. I hope you write more articles like this

  • 2
    0

    Vimukthi
    If this was your child, would you be so sympathetic towards the criminal? If you mean criminals deserve the right to live, then who will speak for the victim’s life? I can’t believe how you can write like this being a woman yourself. Just imagine if this happened to you? Or someone in your family. And don’t blame this on buddhists. Keep religion out of your topic.I am in for capital punishment.

  • 0
    0

    You’re a heartless woman taking sides with a criminal. You should rot in hell!la

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