Sri Lanka defends Brigadier facing legal action in UK

The Government has defended Brigadier Priyanka Fernando against who a fresh trial has commenced in the UK.

The retrial in the case of Majuran Sathananthan vs. Brigadier Andige Priyanka Indunil Fernando commenced at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 18 October 2019.

During the proceedings, the Court heard the private prosecution’s case with prosecution witnesses giving evidence. At the end of the days hearing, the Chief Magistrate adjourned Court until 19 November 2019, when the defence case would be further heard by the Court.

The Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said today that on 01st February 2019, the Chief Magistrate of the Westminster Magistrates’ Court withdrew an earlier arrest warrant issued against Brigadier Priyanka Fernando on 21 January 2019 by an initial lay bench of the Magistrates’ Court, citing a series of procedural flaws.

On 15 March 2019, the Westminster Magistrates’ Court had expunged an earlier conviction on Brigadier Fernando made under Sections 4 and 5 of the Public Order Act of the UK, and determined that “the defendant was convicted without representation”, and cited “a series of mistakes or errors that has led to procedural unfairness”, and called for a retrial under Section 142 of the Magistrates’ Court Act 1980. 

The Foreign Ministry said that the Government of Sri Lanka continues to maintain that Brigadier Fernando as a diplomat who was attached to the Sri Lanka High Commission in London is entitled to diplomatic immunity as per the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961.

The Government of the UK has been requested to honour this obligation, which is reciprocal.

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