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UK court issues arrest-warrant for Sri Lankan brigadier who threatened Tamil activists
By Barfi Culture Team
22nd January 2019

Last year a senior Sri Lankan army official was caught on camera making threatening gestures at Tamil activists in London.

After an uproar in the Tamil media, and a letter from the Labour MP Siobhan McDonagh calling Brigadier Priyanka Fernando's behaviour "inappropriate, unacceptable and threatening", the Sri Lankan army suspended him.

The incident took place on 4th February 2018 when a UK group called Tamil Solidarity held a peaceful protest outside the Sri Lankan High Commission in London.

But the Sri Lankan army reinstated him not long after.

So a group of Tamil activists brought a private prosecution against Defence Attache Priyanka Fernando in London. Yesterday, they won.

Westminster Magistrate's Court found him guilty of committing public order offences and issued an arrest warrant in his name. The court stated his actions were threatening, caused harassment and he intended them to be so, according to the Tamil Guardian.

The court also heard from three Tamils who said they were threatened by Sri Lankan authorities after the incident.

"If you come back to Sri Lanka, you will be detained at the airport and go missing. We will do what we need to do," one of the activists was reportedly told by a government official.



The case was led by the London-based Public Interest Law Centre (PILC), who told reporters they wanted to ensure Fernando would be brought to the UK to face justice.

A statement from the PILC after the court judgement said: "This is a great result – the culture of impunity enjoyed by Sri Lankan officials has been challenged today. Mr Brigadier Fernando, part of a military force who has allegedly committed war crimes, will no longer be able to evade accountability for his actions here in the UK."

So far Sri Lankan authorities have responded with a dismissive attitude.

An army spokesman said told a newspaper they had not been informed of the arrest warrant. "We are not concerned over such media reports. If we receive an official notification then we shall act accordingly."





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