TN to fight fishermen's conviction in Sri Lanka

State government to bear entire legal cost

TN to fight fishermen's conviction in Sri Lanka

The Tamil Nadu government said on Monday that all steps were being taken to save five Indian fishermen facing death sentence in Sri Lanka. It had extended financial assistance to the Indian High Commission there for engaging legal experts to bail them out.

“As a part of the government’s initiative, Rs 20 lakh has been allocated for hiring the best advocates to defend the case in the appeal in Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court against the death sentence given by a local court,” Chief Minister O Panneerselvam said.

In a statement, he said the Tamil Nadu government would take steps not only to ensure safe release of fishermen lodged in a Sri Lankan jail, but also continue to meeting the entire legal costs of this case.

On October 30, the Colombo High Court sentenced to death five fishermen on the charge of smuggling banned drugs into Sri Lanka. They were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy in November 2011.

The chief minister said that based on the Tamil Nadu government’s insistence, the Ministry of External Affairs and the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka had taken up the issue with the Lankan authorities and consistently argued that they “are bona fide fishermen with no record of involvement in drug-related activities.”

He hoped that the fishermen would be released based on the records submitted by the Indian side. “Based on the close monitoring of this case by the government of Tamil Nadu, the Indian side had been given hope that in each successive hearing, there was a strong prospect of discharge of the fishermen from the case,” he said.

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