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Former MP Duminda Silva, who was sentenced to death, has been released from prison under a special Presidential pardon today (24).

The Department of Prisons said that 93 prisoners, including 16 former LTTE cadres, have been released.

PCoI recommendation:

Duminda Report

The Presidential Commission probing into Political Victimisation had suggested providing relief to former MP Duminda Silva who was on death row.

The Commission had unanimously concluded that the former parliamentarian should be acquitted from all charges against him.

The three member Commission chaired by retired Supreme Court Justice Upali Abeyrathna was appointed by the President on January 09, 2020.

The Commission had submitted certain recommendations to the President following a complaint filed by Duminda Silva's father, Vincent Premalal Silva.

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Both government and opposition parliamentarians had signed a petition, requesting President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to pardon Duminda Silva. 115 MPs, including lawmakers from the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) had signed the petition.

Pro- government organisations as well as some sections of the clergy held press briefings and protests urging the President to grant a pardon to Duminda Silva.

Meanwhile, government sources said that the decision to release Duminda Silva was going to be taken soon after Gotabaya Rajapaksa assumed office.

However, the decision had been postponed on the advice of the then president's legal advisor and present Minister of Justice Ali Sabry PC.

Sabry had pointed out that taking a decision to release Duminda Silva back then would have sent shockwaves through Sri Lanka's judicial system.

Unrelenting pressure from PM:

However, government sources suggested that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had taken this decision due to the heavy pressure exerted by government parliamentarians including Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Namal Rajapaksa had also raised concerns in Parliament recently regarding persons held in detention for prolonged periods of time and called for the release of political prisoners.