Colombo, Feb 4 (NIA) – Sixty prisoners who were on death row in Sri Lankan jails have had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment by President Maithripala Sirisena, in view of the country’s 69th Independence Day which was celebrated on Saturday.
Prison’s Commissioner, Nishan Danasinghe told NewsIn.Asia, the prisoners had their sentences commuted following a recommendation made by Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapakse.
Rajapakse made this recommendation based on a report of an expert committee he had appointed to look into the commutation of death sentence to life imprisonment.
The Committee was headed by retired Supreme Court Judge Nimal E.Dissanayake and included Attorney General’s Department Additional Solicitor General Wasantha N Bandara, Colombo University Social Sciences Department Prof Siri Hettige and Consultant Psychiatrist Neil Fernando, Sri Jayawardenapura University Criminology Department Senior Lecturer Udaya Kumara Amarasinghe and Prisons Commissioner General G.H. Dharmadasa.
Most of the prisoners who had their sentences commuted were charged with murder.
Some of them also included senior prisoners who were in Sri Lankan jails for many years.
Although Sri Lankan courts have handed out the death penalty in serious crimes such as murder, rape and drug trafficking, no executions have been carried out in the island country since 1976.
All death penalty cases have been commuted to life in prison