The Indian high commission here confirmed that five Indian fishermen, who were sentenced to death by a Sri Lankan court on charges of drug trafficking, were released from prison and will be sent back to India.
“We are deeply grateful to (Sri Lankan President) Mahinda Rajapaksa for this humanitarian gesture, which will further strengthen the strong and multi-faceted relations between India and Sri Lanka,” the high commission said in a statement.
The five fishermen from Tamil Nadu and three from Sri Lanka were held guilty of drug trafficking and sentenced to death.
Emerson, P. Augustus, R. Wilson, K. Prasath and J. Langlet, all hailing from Tamil Nadu, were apprehended in 2011 and were sentenced to death by the Colombo High Court Oct 30 this year, the report said.
The court ruling triggered fiery protests in parts of Tamil Nadu.
The high commission also said that the five fishermen would not serve their sentence in India, the Daily Mirror reported.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa released the fishermen by using the powers vested in him through the Constitution.
“Yes, they have been released and handed over to the high commission. They will be sent to India and will not serve their sentence there. We are currently working on the modalities of the release,” a high commission spokesperson was quoted as telling the newspaper.