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Crime

Supreme Court stalls hangings

Courts will consider the applications on October 30 leaving Sirisena only a short time before his term ends

Activists protesting against the death penalty near Welikada Prison/Imesh Ranasinghe RepublicNext

President Maithripala Sirisena’s declared intent to begin executions of serious drug offenders immediately took a body blow Friday as the Supreme Court issued an Interim Order stalling the hangings until October 30 this year.

This was in response to a number of Fundamental Rights applications that came before the court on Friday, July 5.

Seventeen petitions were brought before the three-judge bench comprising Justices Buveneka Aluwihare, Gamini Amarasekara, and Prasanna Jayawardana.

Only one was heard today which was brought by Civil Society activist H Geeganage.

His lawyer M A Sumanthiran won the stay order from the courts.

All the other petitions will be considered on October 29.

This stymies Sirisena’s vow to hang these offenders and by the time the petitions are considered he will have a very short time left in his current Presidential term to carry them out as Presidential elections have to be called in November.

Another interesting development took place in the Court of Appeal where a petitioner argued that there was no provision in the law to actually execute a person.

This was when hearings into a petition filed by Journalist Malinda Seneviratne went into its third day.

At the outset of the hearing, the Prisons Department told the Court that it is yet to receive the orders to execute any prisoners on death row.

Prisons Commissioner T M J W Thennakoon also gave an undertaking that he will not authorize any executions until July 17 even if the orders did arrive.

The Justices decided to call the case next on July 17.

RepublicNext exclusively reported yesterday July 4 that the signed death warrants had not been received by the department.