India will appeal Lankan death sentence for fishermen


fishing trawlersIndia indicated there may have been “miscarriage of justice” in the death sentence handed down to five Indian fishermen for alleged drug trafficking in Colombo and said it will appeal.

New Delhi also said that under a bilateral “legal architecture”, a similar death sentence for two Indians was commuted to life imprisonment after a Sri Lankan presidential pardon.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin, answering a query on the matter, said the Indian government’s concern in the matter has been conveyed to the Sri Lankan authorities.

He said the Indian government through its lawyer will contest the death sentence handed down to five Indians – Emerson, P. Augustus, R. Wilson, K. Prasath and J. Langlet – who were apprehended on Nov 28, 2011 by the Sri Lankan Navy on charges of narcotics smuggling.

He said the Indian High Commission had a detailed discussion with its lawyer on the matter and “Their assessment is there has been miscarriage of justice and would like to appeal”.

India is waiting for the authenticated or final copy of the court judgment in order to proceed on the next course of action, which would be to appeal against the judgement.

Akbaruddin said the government’s concern against the judgment has been conveyed to the Sri Lankan authorities “at the highest level” in their mission here and in Sri Lanka to the foreign minister and defence secretary among other officials.

The spokesperson cited a “legal architecture” between the two countries using which the death sentences on two Indian nationals were commuted to life sentence by the executive authority, i.e the president.

He said the two served some period of their sentence in Sri Lanka, and under a pact by which a sentenced prisoner can serve sentence in their respective countries, the two were transferred to India in 2013.

While one has completed his sentence and been set free the other is still serving sentence.

“There is a legal architecture available in India and Sri Lanka to address such matters,” the spokesperson said, indicating the possible way the case of the five Indians could head.He added that any action can be taken after the legal process is complete.