Sri Lanka’s hardline Buddhist monk walks out of jail after pardon

COLOMBO: A Sri Lankan hardline Buddhist monk who’s accused of inciting violence in opposition to ethnic minority Muslims and was convicted of contempt of courtroom walked free from jail on Thursday after a presidential pardon.

Tons of of his followers and dozens of monks waited for hours exterior Welikada jail in Colombo to see Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, however the monk left by way of a separate gate, which a monk from his group stated was on account of safety considerations.

Some followers carried a distorted nationwide flag which excluded the inexperienced and orange coloration strips which characterize ethnic minority Tamils and Muslims who collectively account for almost 1 / 4 of the nation’s 22 million inhabitants.

Rights activists condemned the discharge of Gnanasara, head of the hardline Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) or “Buddhist Energy Pressure”.

His pardon comes per week after extremist Buddhists attacked Muslim-owned properties, mosques and retailers in obvious reprisal for the Easter bombings by Islamist militants that killed greater than 250 folks.

Ganansara or his group was not concerned within the latest violence, police stated.

“We stated in regards to the impending hazard way back, lastly no matter we revealed, has grow to be true,” Gnanasara instructed reporters, in an obvious reference to the Easter assaults.

He thanked Sri Lanka’s influential Buddhist clergy and President Maithripala Sirisena for his launch. There was no quick reply from the president’s workplace when Reuters sought remark.

Authorities ministers and Muslim leaders have accused Gnanasara of stirring up violence in opposition to Muslims and Christians earlier than his imprisonment, allegations he has denied.

Hilmy Ahamed, vice chairman of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, stated: “I feel and hope he is not going to return to his extremism.”

The monk was sentenced to 6 years in jail in August over a 2016 incident when he interrupted a courtroom listening to in regards to the abduction of the journalist wherein army intelligence officers had been accused.

Gnanasara was additionally sentenced in a separate case in June for having threatened the journalist’s spouse.

Since 2014, the monk has confronted accusations in instances relating to anti-Muslim violence, hate speech, and defaming the Koran.

That 12 months Gnanasara signed a pact with Myanmar’s Ashin Wirathu, who as soon as described himself as “the Burmese bin Laden”, in what the duo known as a bid to counter regional conversion efforts by Islamists.

“Pardoning Gnanasara is a slap on the independence of judiciary. He was convicted of interfering with courtroom & contempt of courtroom. No civilized nation will frivolously pardon such a convict,” J.C. Weliamuna, a rights lawyer, stated in his tweet.—Reuters

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