Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court invalidates Presidential Pardon in Royal Park murder case

Maithripala Sirisena

(Photo Source: Maithripala Sirisena’s Official Facebook Page)

The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka today (June 06) ruled the presidential pardon granted to Don Shamantha Jude Anthony Jayamaha, the convict in the Royal Park murder case, by the former Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena was arbitrary and legally invalid.

A panel of three judges, including Justices S. Thurairaja, Yasantha Kodagoda, and Janak de Silva, reviewed the case and found that the two presidential pardons given to Jayamaha went against constitutional provisions. They stressed that Sirisena’s actions violated the petitioner’s Fundamental Rights and undermined the public trust doctrine.

The Women & Media Collective organization had filed a Fundamental Rights petition challenging the legality of the presidential pardon. Their legal team, led by President’s Counsel Sanjeeva Jayawardena, argued that Sirisena’s pardon disregarded legal principles.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court nullified the presidential pardon and instructed authorities to enforce Jayamaha’s sentence lawfully. Additionally, Sirisena was ordered to pay compensation of Rs. 01 million to the petitioner, along with Rs. 01 million each to the victim’s parents.

The court explicitly stated that Sirisena’s actions deliberately disregarded constitutional provisions, necessitating legal measures for Jayamaha’s extradition, as he is currently residing overseas. This decision aligns with both local and international conventions.

President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva represented the victims, while Faizer Mustapha PC represented former President Maithripala Sirisena. Saliya Peiris PC represented the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, and Additional Solicitor General Nerin Pulle represented the Attorney General.

This verdict marks a significant moment in Sri Lanka’s legal system, affirming the judiciary’s role in upholding constitutional principles and maintaining public trust.

History of the Royal Park murder case

On July 1, 2005, Don Shamantha Jude Anthony Jayamaha murdered 19-year-old Yvonne Jonsson at the Royal Park apartment complex in Rajagiriya, Sri Lanka.

In 2012, Jayamaha was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder.

However, in 2019, he was pardoned and released from prison by former President Maithripala Sirisena.