Krishanthi Coomaraswami murder
Supreme Court affirms conviction, death sentence

by Chitra Weerarathne
The Supreme Court yesterday affirmed the conviction of rape and murder, and the sentence of death imposed on five Army officers, who had raped, and killed 17 year old Krishanthi Coomaraswami, and also killed her mother, brother and a neighbour, on or about September 7, 1996, at Chemmani check point in the North, of Sri Lanka.

The High Court Trial-at-Bar convicted all the five accused persons of rape of Krishanthi and imposed a sentence of twenty years imprisonment. The Trial-at-Bar convicted all the five accused persons of the murder of Krishanthi, her mother, brother and a neighbour. Death penalty was imposed for the murder conviction.

Three of the accused persons were convicted of the abduction of Krishanthi. They were imposed a sentence of ten years rigorous imprisonment, with a fine of Rs. 50,000/=.

In affirming the aforesaid High Court convictions and the sentences imposed, the appeal filed by the accused appellants was dismissed by the Supreme Court yesterday.

The accused appellants are R. D. S. Rajapaksa, J. M. Jayasinghe, G. P. Priyadarshana, A. S. P. Perera, D. M. Jayatillake all of the Sri Lanka Army.

The first, third and the fourth accused persons, had abducted Krishanthi. All of them had raped and killed Krishanthi and the other three persons mentioned earlier.

Ranjith Abeysuriya P.C. appeared for, Rajapakse. Dr. Ranjith Fernando, appeared for the other four accused appellants.

The Supreme Court Bench that heard and dismissed the appeal comprised, Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake, Justice H. S. Yapa, Justice P. Edussuriya, Justice Asoka de Silva and Justice Nihal Jayasinghe.

The judgement by Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake with the other justices agreeing explained that, "Considering the power and the authority, the military police officers have over the persons in their custody, combined with the gravity of the charges the detention in communicado, and the inaccessibility to lawyers to practise the rights of such person in their custody, would be a paramount necessity to include the military police officer also into the definition of a police officer in terms of Sections 25 of the Evidence Ordinance. Accordingly the confession made to the military police by the appellants in this case are inadmissible and therefore cannot be used against the appellants."

However, the judgement concluded that there is no merit in any of the grounds urged by the defence except the ground relating to the admissibility of the evidence to the military police.

The defence counsel had submitted that the confession made by the accused appellant to the military police could not be used against them, the confessions are inadmissible.

The appeal was dismissed. The Trial-at-Bar judgement was affirmed.

C. R. de Silva, Solicitor General, P. C. appeared for the Attorney General.