Contempt case against Gnanasara Thera; BBS to seek a presidential pardon 

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

The Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) will seek presidential pardon for its General Secretary Ven. Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thero who was found guilty of all four counts of contempt of court. He was sentenced by the Court of Appeal to 19 years rigorous imprisonment to run concurrently for six years on Wednesday (07).

BBS Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dilantha Vithanage told The Morning that he would first consult Ven. Gnanasara Thera for his opinion on requesting a pardon from President Maithripala Sirisena.

On Wednesday, in its judgment, the Court of Appeal convicted Gnanasara Thera of contempt of court, for having disturbed proceedings at the Homagama Magistrates Court in January, 2016, while an inquiry against six Army Intelligence Officers was being held.

The Court of Appeal imposed four consecutive hard labour prison terms as penalty for connected charges of contempt of court. The effective prison term is six years.

The Superintendent of Prisons was directed by the Court of Appeal to take charge of the convicted Thero, who is currently undergoing treatment in the Sri Jayewardenepura Hospital for kidney disease.

BBS Chief Executive Vithanage said that the Thero’s lawyers had decided to appeal against the sentence.

The defence attorney President’s Counsel Manohara de Silva informed the Appeals Court that they wish to appeal against the sentence and requested time make their case. The Court of Appeal, which accepted the request, ordered him to make the relevant observations on 29 August.

Gnanasara Thero was sentenced to six months rigorous imprisonment on 14 June, for threatening Sandya Ekneligoda, the wife of missing journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda, within the Homagama Court premises.

Vithanage said that even though they did not agree with the judgment, they accepted the sentence and would appeal it. “There is nothing left for us to do for Gnanasara Thera as the judgment has already been delivered against him. It is President Sirisena who can consider giving pardon to Gnanasara Thera and release him from prison.”

When asked about Gnanasara Thera’s health condition, Vithanage said he was being treated in hospital for an ailment and, as far as he knows, a surgery that has to be conducted on him had been postponed until Monday, as he was not mentally fit.