Convicted murderer on death row sworn in by Sri Lankan Parliament
A convicted murderer on death row was sworn in as a Sri Lankan lawmaker Tuesday, after a court ruled that he could not be barred from the country’s 225-member Parliament.
Lawmakers from the United People’s Force, the largest opposition grouping in Parliament, staged a walkout when Premlal Jayasekera was sworn in by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena as Member of Parliament for Ratnapura District, a gem mining center, southeast of the capital Colombo.
Jayasekera was convicted of murdering activist Susil Perera ahead of a presidential election in January 2015. While he was sentenced to death, Sri Lanka has not carried out an execution since 1976, though last year the previous government announced plans to resume the practice.
While the case against him was pending, Jayasekera was nominated by the Sri Lanka People’s Front (SLPF) as a parliamentary candidate. When the SLPF won a landslide victory last year, Jayasekera was one of 145 candidates elected to Parliament.
SLPF is run by the Rajapaksa brothers, Gotabaya and Mahinda, who hold the positions of President and Prime Minister of Sri Lanka respectively.
Jayasekera’s election triggered a string of legal issues, as he tried to get permission to attend Parliament from authorities at Colombo’s Welikade Prison. Eventually his case reached the Court of Appeal, which ruled this week that he should be permitted to take his oath of office.