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Honour diplomatic immunity FM urges the UK

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Referring to the case against the former Defence Attache of the Sri Lankan High Commission in London Brigadier Priyanka Fernando at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court, the Foreign Ministry has requested the UK government to honour the diplomatic immunity which Brigadier Fernando is entitled to as per the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961.

According to a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry, the retrial in the case of Majuran Sathananthan vs. Brigadier Andige Priyanka Indunil Fernando had commenced at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court on October 18.

During the proceedings, the Court heard the private prosecution’s case with prosecution witnesses giving evidence. At the end of the day’s hearing, the Chief Magistrate adjourned Court until November 19, when the defence case would be further heard by the Court, the statement said.

Regarding this issue, on February 01, 2019, the Chief Magistrate of the Westminster Magistrates’ Court withdrew an earlier arrest warrant issued against Brigadier Priyanka Fernando on January 21 by an initial lay bench of the Magistrates’ Court, citing a series of procedural flaws.

On March 15, the Westminster Magistrates’ Court had expunged an earlier conviction on Brigadier Fernando made under Sections 4 and 5 of the Public Order Act of the UK, and determined that “the defendant was convicted without representation”, and cited “a series of mistakes or errors that have led to procedural unfairness”, and called for a retrial under Section 142 of the Magistrates’ Court Act 1980, the Foreign Ministry added.

The Ministry states that Government of Sri Lanka continues to maintain that Brigadier Fernando as a diplomat who was attached to the Sri Lanka High Commission in London is entitled to diplomatic immunity as per the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961.

The Government of the UK has been requested to honour this obligation, which is reciprocal, it added.