UK’s election overshadows retrial on Brig Fernando | Sunday Observer

UK’s election overshadows retrial on Brig Fernando

Following the judgement on Brigadier Priyanka Fernando’s conviction in a UK Court last week, the Government said it suspected whether the whole process of the retrial was overshadowed by the upcoming UK’s crucial general election.

The Foreign Ministry sources said it was considering appealing against the ruling on former Defence Attache Brigadier Priyanka Fernando. The appeal will be made within the stipulated 14 days.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry yesterday stated the government still maintained he was a diplomat entitled to immunity being an officer attached to the Sri Lankan mission in London, and it was unfortunate that this fact has been disregarded in the final judgement.

In the statement issued yesterday it added, “timing of the delivering of the judgement on the eve of the UK elections, the alleged unruly and intimidatory behaviour of the supporters of the prosecution during Court hearings, who were also carrying LTTE flags, alleged leaking of privileged information submitted in Court by the defence to the public domain by the private prosecution, makes abundantly clear that this is a politically motivated action.”

Former Defence Attache Brigadier Priyanka Fernando’s retrial was heard at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court and the judgement was delivered on December 6 by the Chief Magistrate.

The former Defence Attache was convicted under Section 4A of the Public Order Act of the UK and imposed a lower notional financial penalty which added up to Sterling Pounds 4,000 in fines, costs and compensation, the foreign media reported.

When an arrest warrant was issued on the Brigadier in respect of the case in January 2019, then British High Commissioner in Colombo was summoned by the Foreign Secretary and a protest was lodged against the legal proceedings in British Courts disregarding diplomatic immunity.

Later with the intervention of the British Foreign and Commonwealth office, a retrial was fixed to consider if Brigadier Fernando’s actions were covered by diplomatic immunity under Article 31 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961.

The Foreign Ministry also pointed out that evidence shows demonstrators who had staged the protest in front of the Sri Lanka High Commission as well as those who protested in front of Westminster Magistrates’ Court during the Court hearings used flags of the LTTE which is a proscribed organisation in the UK.

Three Sri Lankan Tamils refugees in the UK, Majuran Sathananthan, Palliya Perera and Gokulakrishnan Narayanasamy, brought a private prosecution against Fernando who was seen making a throat slitting gesture at a group of protestors. The protest was staged in front of the Sri Lankan High Commission in London on Sri Lanka’s Independence Day. The three men who were involved in the protest had argued Fernando’s behaviour caused them harassment, alarm and distress.