Former Sri Lankan prison commissioner sentenced to death over prisoners’ killings

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A top Sri Lankan court here has sentenced to death a former prisons commissioner over the Welikada Prison riot in 2012 which killed at least 27 inmates.

The Colombo High Court trial on Wednesday found the former superintendent Emil Ranjan Lamahewa guilty and passed the death sentence.

The first defendant in the case, the then Inspector of the Police Narcotics Bureau, Neomal Rangajeewa was acquitted from all charges.

The case was heard for nearly three years before a three-member bench.

Lamahewa and Rangajeewa were arrested in March 2018. The defendants were charged with 33 counts, including the killing of eight inmates selected by the defendants in the industrial area of the prison, the conspiracy to murder and illegally assembling a mass of people while the conflict was being suppressed.

On November 9, 2012, at least 27 inmates were killed while more than 20 others were injured when prisoners rioted in the overcrowded jail objecting to an unannounced search by the police’s Special Task Force to nab contraband and mobile phones at the prison.

Rights groups led a sustained campaign for justice to the victims which had drawn international attention too.

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