Nay Pyi Taw | India today filed an appeal in the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka against a verdict of the high court awarding death sentence to five Indian fishermen in the island nation for alleged drug smuggling. External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin while giving this information expressed confidence that justice will be done to the five Indians who are on death row.
The spokesperson was speaking to journalists accompanying Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Myanmar for the India-ASEAN and East Asia summits. We are confident that justice will be done, he said in reply to a question on India’s approach in the wake of the High Court verdict. Akbaruddin told reporters in the Myanmar capital that the Indian High Commission in Colombo has engaged one of the best lawyers in Sri Lanka to challenge the high court verdict.
The identity of the lawyer was not known. Yesterday, the spokesperson in New Delhi had said the government would do everything possible to ensure return of the five Indian fishermen in accordance with Sri Lanka’s legal and executive process. It is a matter on which we place very high priority. It is also a matter on which we are exploring a variety of avenues to ensure that those citizens of India return to India safely.
These avenues are being pursued in accordance with Sri Lanka’s legal system and Sri Lanka’s executive role in the process, he had said. The spokesperson said the Indian High Commission in Colombo has got the judgement which is over 200 pages long. It (the judgement) is in Sinhalese. The lawyers are looking at it. The Indian High Commission has approached some of the best legal brains of Sri Lanka to have a look at it and they are examining what would be the best avenue to ensure that those five fisherman can be brought back home, he said.
Emerson, P Augustus, R Wilson, K Prasath and J Langlet, all hailing from Tamil Nadu, were apprehended in 2011 and were sentenced to death by the Colombo High Court on October 30 for alleged drug trafficking. The court ruling had triggered fiery protests in parts of Tamil Nadu and sporadic violence broke out in and around Rameswaram island as a large number of people staged protests.
The issue of fishermen is a very emotive matter for both Sri Lanka and India, where Tamil Nadu-based parties including AIADMK and DMK have been regularly pressing the government to take up the matter with the Lankan authorities seriously and have often resented high-profile visits from the island nation.
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