Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Thursday pardoned former army sergeant Sunil Ratnayake, who was sentenced to death for killing eight Tamil civilians during the country’s civil war.
After a 13-year trial, the Colombo High Court found Ratnayake guilty of eight civilian murders and sentenced him to death in June 2015. The Supreme Court upheld the conviction.
The murders are referred to as the “Mirusuvil massacre,” and those killed include three children. Fourteen other soldiers were thought to also be involved in the murders but were acquitted of all charges for “insufficient evidence.”
Amnesty International’s Regional Director for South Asia Biraj Patnaik responded to the pardon saying it “sends an extremely worrying message.” He also noted, “accountability is so rare for serious human rights violations in Sri Lanka.”