Sri Lanka’s president has pardoned former Staff Sergeant Sunil Ratnayake who had been convicted for allegedly murdering eight members of the Tamil minority.
The former army officer was sentenced to death by hanging after being found guilty for the December 2000 killings. The officer was accused of slitting the throats of some eight people including a five-year-old and three teenagers, in what is now known as the Mirusuvil massacre.
The victims were reportedly killed as they returned to their bombed homes. Their bodies were found buried in a cesspit near an army camp at Mirusuvil on the Jaffna peninsula.
The officer was convicted after a thirteen-year trial. The Supreme Court rejected the officer’s appeal and upheld the death penalty last year.
Human Rights watchdog Amnesty International has since condemned the pardoning of the officer. The agency said it was “reprehensible” to use the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to release those convicted of heinous crimes.