Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Monday granted amnesty to eight Tamil prisoners after each of them spent over 10 years in jail for their alleged connections to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
A presidential release said the pardoning granted under section 34 of the Constitution has come as a result of interventions by Tamil parliamentarians.
The 3 of the eight prisoners were those convicted for an assassination attempt on former president Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. Kumaratunga who was the president between 1994 and 2005 had consented to their pardoning, it said.
Two of those pardoned have agreed to withdraw their action filed in the court of appeal.
Three of the convicts had spent 22 of their 30-year jail terms and two had been in jail for 14 years over a 5-year sentence, while another prisoner had been imprisoned for 14 years despite his 11-year sentencing term.
One prisoner had spent 14 years in jail for a 5-year sentence and another had completed 14 years in jail although the sentence was limited to 11 years, the statement said.
The Tamil political parties and rights groups have been pressing for the release of Tamil prisoners with suspected connections to the activities of the LTTE.
They have been held over a long period of time under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) with pre-trial periods taking a long time due to inordinate delays in the legal system.
Sri Lanka has come under intense international pressure to repeal the PTA. European Parliament in 2021 adopted a resolution to suspend the EU’s preferred tax concessions to Sri Lankan exports until the repealing of the PTA.
The government has given assurances to the EU that the PTA would not be used to detain people.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) ran a military campaign for a separate Tamil homeland in the northern and eastern provinces of the island nation for nearly 30 years before its collapse in 2009 after the Sri Lankan Army killed its supreme leader Velupillai Prabhakaran
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