pardon and parole in political muddle
By Santhush Fernando
The controversy over the fate of the jailed UNP national organizer
S.B. Dissanayake has taken new twists and turns. While Parliament
Secretary General has informed the Elections Commissioner that Mr.
Dissanayake has forfeited his seat and the next on the list should
be named, charges and counter-charges are being flung around over
Mr. Dissanayake’s appeal for parole. UNP parliamentarian Mahinda
Wijesekera who heads a committee campaigning for Mr. Dissanayake’s
release, charged there was some foul play to sabotage the parole
plea made to the Appeals Board.
parole laws, any prisoner serving a term of two years or more could
appeal for parole after completing two-thirds of the sentence and
Mr. Dissanayake is eligible for this in April.
Board Chairman, former Court of Appeal Judge Hector S. Yapa said
the board had not taken up Mr. Dissanayake’s case but declined
further comment. Deputy Justice Minister Dilan Perera and Ministry
Secretary Suhada Gamalath denied Mr. Wijesekera’s charges
that Mr. Dissanayake’s appeal had been sabotaged. But they
did not give reasons as to why his case was not considered.
Wijesekera in a letter to President Mahinda Rajapakse charged that
Mr. Dissanayake’s appeal had been forwarded to the chairman
of the Appeals Board but the chairman had not put it to the board
due to some political pressure.
Deputy Minister Perera denied this charge, saying all members of
the Appeals Board were former judges and there were no political
Meanwhile a controversy has also arisen over an appeal made in this
regard to the Supreme Court. Mr. Wijesekera said although a petition
was filed, the registrar of the court had informed the Secretary
General of Parliament that there were no such petition filed. Thus
the Secretary General had informed the Elections Commissioner that
Mr. Dissanayake’s seat was vacant.
Wijesekera said he was surprised by President Rajapakse’s
move to refer the matter of a Presidential pardon to the Supreme
said such a reference was not in keeping with the Constitution and
the court had referred the matter back saying it could not give
an opinion relating to a person it had convicted.