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SC prevents Royal Park convict from travelling overseas

Artwork by Akila Weerasinghe, copyright RepublicNext

The Supreme Court issued an interim injunction a short while ago preventing recently pardoned Royal Park murder convict Shramantha Jude Jayamaha from travelling overseas.

Supreme Court Justices Vijith Malagoda and Gamini Amarasekara issued the order today after considering a petition that challenged Former President Maithripala Sirisena’s controversial decision to pardon Jayamaha.

The now 32-year-old Jayamaha was sentenced to death in 2012 over the alleged murder of Swedish-Sri Lankan national Yvonne Johnson in 2005 at the Royal Park apartment complex.

President Sirisena revealed his intention to pardon Jayamaha in October this year, claiming that the then 19-year-old youth had been driven to murder in a moment of impatience — a crime of passion, in other words.

Sirisena said a request for a presidential pardon had been made by Jayamaha, prompting him to consider it on the account of the “child”’s good behaviour in prison. The President also remarked that Jayamaha had completed his PhD behind bars.

It was later revealed that the call for a presidential pardon for Jayamaha had come from Athuraliye Rathana Thero, with the backing of several religious leaders including a Catholic Bishop. This was according to a statement issued by the President’s Media Division on 11 November.

In an open letter purportedly penned by Jayamaha himself, circulated online on 14 November, Jayamaha said his pardon was the culmination of a process that began three years ago.

The letter also claimed his purported reform began five years ago when he first encountered Rathana Thero.

“I met Ve. Rathana Thero for the first time – when I was at a particularly low point in my life – around five years ago. He was meeting prisoners to give us meditation advice, and in a very long time, someone looked at me with kindness. It was he who gave me the desire to believe in life again and even motivated me to pick up my studies again,” writes Jayamaha.

The letter went on to detail how his pardon was not an arbitrary decision by President Maithripala Sirisena but was the final step in a continual sequence of reviews and approvals that began in 2016.