5 Indian fishermen released by Sri Lanka after dismissal of death row, to reach today
After much protests and arguments over what should be done to the those five Indian fishermen, it was finally decided that they will be released by the Sri Lankan court, on Wednesday.
They will be transferred to an Indian jail shortly upon their arrival here.
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi intervened in the matter and spoke to President Mahinda Rajapaksa of the island nation, the Sri Lankan authorities decided to release the Tamil Nadu fishermen - Emerson, P Augustus, R Wilson, K Prasath and J Langlet.
"PM Modi spoke to President Rajapaksa and the latter decided to pardon the five Indian fishermen facing death sentence. It if for the Lankan President to say whether it's a fallout of conversation with PM Modi or not. We don't call it a pardon for Indian fishermen, we call it reduction of sentence," Sri Lankan Minister Senthil Thondaman was quoted as saying shortly ahead of their release.
All five men were apprehended in 2011 and held guilty of drug trafficking.
A few days back, Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa had assured India that he was ready to pardon the five Indian fishermen, a statement issued by Minister Prabha Ganesan confirmed the Indian High Commission officials in Colombo.
The Colombo High Court had sentenced the five fishermen to death on charges of smuggling 995 grams of heroin on October 30. They were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy for heroin trafficking in 2011.
The appeal filed against the Colombo High Court judgment was dismissed by a two-judge Appellate Court Bench comprising of Justices Vijith K. Malalgoda and AHMD. Nawaz, after the counsel appearing for the five fishermen said they have decided to withdraw it.
Sri Lanka, according to the Colombo Page web site, was exploring ways to free the Indian fishermen.