( November 2, 2014, New Delhi, Sri Lanka Guardian) Citing a past precedent, India on Friday hoped that the five Indian fishermen sentenced to death by a Sri Lankan court can be saved from the gallows, adding that the Modi Government is “concerned” over the judgement and has taken it up already with senior levels in the Sri Lankan Government.
India said that the sentence of two Indian nationals who were sentenced to death in Sri Lanka in the 1990s was commuted to life imprisonment by the then Sri Lankan President and were allowed to subsequently serve their jail term in India as per an existing pact between the two countries and that therefore a legal architecture exists to address such cases.
The ministry of external affairs said the lawyers representing the fishermen had told the Indian High Commissioner in Colombo that they were of the view that there had been a miscarriage of justice.
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj is in touch with the Sri Lankan foreign minister on the matter. The Five Indian fishermen, namely Emerson, P. Augustus, R. Wilson, K. Prasath and J.Langlet were apprehended on November 28, 2011, by Sri Lankan Navy on charges of narcotics smuggling.
Meanwhile, India’s external intel agency the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) has in its assessment report submitted to the office of the National Security Advisor said that “information and details collected by the agency from multiple sources clearly proves that the five Indian fishermen given death sentence in Sri Lanka were innocent”.
Meanwhile, NSA has been closely monitoring the developments on the case and had sought details of the case from the intelligence agency.
MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said on Friday, “There is concern on this judgment and this concern has been conveyed to the Lankan government both here at the top most level of their representation as well as in Sri Lanka including foreign minister and defence secretary.” This indicates that the matter has already been discussed with the Lankan highcommissioner in New Delhi.
“Our high commissioner Friday in Colombo has had detailed discussions with the lawyers. Their view is that there has been miscarriage of justice and they would like to appeal against that,” the MEA said.