Published : 9:16 am  October 12, 2018 | No comments so far |  | 


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Bharatha Lakshman case

  • 1st accused Thushara De Mel acquitted  
  • Family, lawyers and journos left with no clarity in judgment
  • Four accused acquitted of 2 charges 
  • Unlawful assembly proved beyond reasonable doubt


By Hafeel Farisz and Shehan Chamika Silva 

A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Priyasath Dep unanimously affirmed the death sentences imposed on Duminda Silva and two others whilst acquitting the first accused of all charges relating to the murder of former parliamentarian Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra yesterday.


The bench walked into room 502 at 2.48 p.m., after which portions of the judgment were read out to a packed courthouse. The appellants, their families, journalists and lawyers present were left making guess work following the reading of the judgment having to untangle the nuances of it. The lawyers of the accused also remained committal only towards the essence of the judgment which affirmed the death sentence on the trio and the acquittal of the 1st accused, Police Constable Thushara De Mel. However, in the judgment read out by the Chief Justice, in what was one of his final judgments before retirement, the four accused were acquitted of the charge of joint possession of firearms and another charge. The judgment in full was not provided to those present.  

Justice Dep in arriving at the conclusion held that the Supreme Court justices believed the evidence of three prosecution eyewitnesses. They held that the most pertinent question before the court was the question of unlawful assembly, an offence found in section 146 of the Penal Code for which they found the trio guilty. “The prosecution proved the element of unlawful assembly beyond reasonable doubt,” Justice Dep said. 

LATE-CITY-DM-1-7Following the reading of the judgment, the Justices made their way to the Chambers a few minutes before 3.00 p.m., resulting in families of the appellants making their way to the defence lawyers to seek clarity. The team of defence counsel which included Presidents Counsels Anil Silva, Anura Meddegoda, Shavindra Fernando, Shanaka Ranasinghe and Anuja Premarathne, informed the appellants of the affirmation of the death sentence but were left with little choice in providing the nuances of judgment. The wife of Chaminda Ravi Jayanath alias ‘Dematagoda Chaminda’ began wailing as soon as she heard of the affirmation within the courthouse itself. 


Deputy Solicitor General Thusith Mudalige who prosecuted at the Trial-at-Bar led the Attorney General’s team during the appeal. 

The Colombo High Court on September  8, 2016 sentenced to death four persons including former MP Duminda Silva for the murder of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra on October 8, 2011 in a shootout 
at Mulleriyawa. 

The accused were charged on 17 counts including committing and conspiring to murder four individuals, inflicting gunshot injuries, unlawful assembly and criminal intimidation. The accused had been charged under Sections 296, 140, 146, 147, 486 and 300 of the Penal Code. They were further charged under the Offences of Firearms Act. 

The Supreme Court reserved judgment on July 25 having heard arguments from the appellants and the respondent – Attorney General for 13 days since March 26, 2018. Both parties filed written submissions thereafter following which the judgment was delivered yesterday. 

The bench comprised Chief Justice Priyasath Dep, Justice Buwaneka Aluwihare, Justice Vjith Malalgoda, Justice Priyantha Jayawardena and Justice Nalin Perera.    




Justice Dep in arriving at the conclusion held that the Supreme Court justices believed the evidence of three prosecution eyewitnesses