A Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka has been sentenced to death – the first in 50 years to receive such a sentence in the country.
He was condemned for a murder committed before he was ordained into the clergy.
His fate is however unclear as no death sentence has been carried out for more than three decades.
The 37-year-old monk, Venerable Gomadiye Sarana, was sentenced to death by a court in southern Sri Lanka along with a companion.
They had been found guilty of murdering a man 12 years ago – some years before the monk entered holy orders.
The crime appeared linked to a dispute over an affair the monk had with the murder victim’s sister.
Reports say the judge ordered the monk to remove his robes before he delivered the judgment. But the monk refused.
Theravada Buddhist monks play a prominent public role in Sri Lanka.
This is the first time a monk has been given the death sentence since the hanging in 1962 of Talduwe Somarama, a fierce Sinhalese nationalist who had assassinated a Sri Lankan prime minister.
Other monks have recently been implicated in serious crimes. Last year a court ordered the arrest of a Buddhist cleric in northern Sri Lanka for allegedly sexually molesting a teenage girl.
In the south a crowd of protestors demanded the arrest of someone they said was a monk for the rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl. And last week police said they detained a monk in possession of heroin.
People are regularly sentenced to death in Sri Lanka but the last judicial execution happened in 1976 so there are hundreds on death row.