President of Sri Lanka, Gotabaya Rajapaksa pardoned a criminal Buddhist monk who had been jailed for life for possessing two T-56 firearms and 210 numbers of live ammunition illegally.
Political monk Uwathenne Sumana Thero was charged under the firearm ordinance of Sri Lanka for the offence he committed in 2010, few weeks ahead of the Presidential. By that time, he was a supporter of Sarath Fonseka, former Army Commander, who contested as opposition common candidate against incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Formerly, he supported President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s party. Sarath Fonseka lost the presidential election in 2010 and he too was court-martialled and jailed for years under the influence of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Another monk and three former supporters of Karuna faction broken away from Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam were also arrested. The Attorney-General withdrew the charges against them in June 2018.
After a lengthy hearing, Colombo High Court Judge Adithya Patabendi sentenced him for a lifetime rigorous imprisonment on 01 June 2020. He was forced to remove his robe and wear the prison jumper.
Diana Gamage, a national list MP of Samagi Jana Balavegaya led by Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, recently appealed to the President to pardon Uwathenne Sumana Thero. Diana Gamage crossed over to the government and voted in favour of 20th amendment to the constitution going against the party decision.
Sumana Thero had appealed against the judgement against him before the appellate court. He was pardoned under the condition of withdrawing the appeal.
Analysts believe that the pardoning of this Buddhist monk who had politically supported the opposition was a precursor for pardoning Duminda Silva, the former ill-famous politician now condemned for the murder of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra. Duminda Silva is the brother of Raynor Silva, the owner of ABC media network which is a major propaganda tool of Rajapaksa regime.