Following a Court of Appeal order, the death penalty imposed on a man accused of murder was set aside when it transpired that the judgment had been delivered by a person who was not a judicial officer.
Delivering the order sequel to an appeal filed before the Appeal Court by condemned Prisoner Kathriarachchige Don Jagath Kanil of no. 174 Colombo Road, Piliyandala, the court set-aside the conviction and the death sentence imposed on him in 2004 by the Panadura Provincial High Court Judge Samit de Silva.
The Appeal Court ruled that the Hon. Samit de Silva was not a judicial officer at the time he delivered the judgment. However the Appeal Court directed that a fresh trial be held before the incumbent High Court judge.
The accused in this case, Kathriarachchige Don Jagath Kanil, had been indicted by the Attorney General with committing the murder of his wife Sawarnalatha Podimaneke of Piliyandala. The case was tried before Panadura Provincial High Court Judge Samit de Silva in 2004 and, after a lengthy trial, the accused had been found guilty of murder; and the judge had sentenced him to death. The accused had been taken to Welikada prison and while in the prison he had filed an appeal before the Appeal Court. The appeal was heard by the Appeal Court bench comprising Justices W.L.R. Silva and Upaly Abeyrathne who delivered judgment on August 27.
The judgment had been forwarded to the Panadura Provincial High Court Judge Malani Gunaratne to pronounce it before the accused when he was produced by the prison officials before court.
The accused appellant was produced before the court and the judge delivered the judgment of the Appeal Court. According to the judgment, the original judgment against the accused had been delivered by a person who was not a judicial officer at the time of delivering the judgment and, accordingly, the conviction and the death sentence passed on the accused was set-aside.
The Court of Appeal had stated, ‘Accordingly since the judgment has been delivered by a person who was not a judicial officer at the time of delivering the judgment we set aside the judgment and the conviction and the death sentence.