Supreme Court Justice Murdu Fernando today recused herself from hearing several Fundamental Rights petitions filed challenging the Presidential pardon given to ex-soldier Sunil Ratnayake.

When the petitions came up before Supreme Court three-judge-bench comprising Justice Murdu Fernando, Justice Achala Wengappuli and Justice Mahinda Samayawardena, Justice Murdu Fernando declined to hear the petitions citing she served as a member of the Supreme Court bench which heard the appeal petition filed by Sunil Ratnayake.

Accordingly, the Fundamental Rights petitions challenging President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s decision to grant a Presidential pardon were fixed for support on September 21.

Former Army staff sergeant R.M. Sunil Ratnayake who was convicted and sentenced to death for the Mirusuvil murder case in 2000 had been released after he received Presidential Clemency.

Several petitioners including the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) and its Executive Director Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu had filed these petitions naming Commissioner General of Prisons, the Minister of Justice, the Secretary to the President and the National Authority for the Protection of Victims of Crimes and Witnesses as respondents.


The Petitioners say the decision to pardon Ratnayake is arbitrary, unreasonable, ultra vires and has not been done in the interest of the public.          

R.M. Sunil Ratnayake, a staff sergeant attached to Sri Lanka Army was sentenced to death by Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar bench on June 25, 2015, after being found guilty for murdering eight civilians at Mirusuvil in Jaffna on December 19, 2000.

On November 27, 2002, the Attorney General indicted five accused on 19 charges for the murder of eight civilians in Mirusuvil of the Jaffna peninsula before a High Court at Trial-at-Bar in Colombo. The Trial-at-bar bench found former Staff Sergeant R.M. Sunil Ratnayake guilty of multiple counts including murder.

Meanwhile, on May 20, 2017,  a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court had also unanimously affirmed the conviction and the death sentence imposed on former army staff sergeant regarding this incident.


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