Five Indian fishermen get death term in Lanka

Five Indian fishermen get death term in Lanka

Five Indian fishermen were given death penalty by a Sri Lankan court on Thursday for alleged drug trafficking, invoking a sharp reaction from India which took up the matter with Sri Lanka and said it would appeal to a higher court against the judgment.

The five Indians  – Emerson, P Augustus, R Wilson, K Prasath and J Langlet –were  among a group of eight people sentenced to death by the Colombo High Court. The other three were Sri Lankan nationals.

The eight were apprehended by Sri Lankan Navy near Delft Island on the Palk Strait on November 28, 2011. They were accused of narcotics smuggling.

Sri Lankan Navy claimed that the group of drug smugglers had pretended to be fishermen, when they were caught and handed over to police.

The Tamil Nadu fishermen, however, claimed innocence right from the beginning of the trial. 

“The Government of India through the High Commission of India, Colombo and the Consulate General of India, Jaffna has been extending all possible consular assistance to them,” the MEA spokesperson said. After the Colombo High Court verdict, New Delhi asked the Indian High Commission in Colombo to help them appeal against the verdict in a higher court there.

India also took up the issue with the Sri Lankan government through diplomatic channels, both in New Delhi and Colombo.

Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said the government was committed to helping the TN fishermen.

He said India’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Yash Sinha, was in touch with the island nation’s Foreign Minister G L Peiris after the court pronounced its judgment.The High Commission is in touch with the lawyers of the TN fishermen and they will appeal to the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka within the next 14 days. 

The arrest of Tamil Nadu fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy for allegedly fishing in the territorial waters of the island nation has been an emotive and politically sensitive issue in the Southern Indian state, where all the political parties have been blaming the Union Government for not doing enough to resolve the issue.

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