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Sri Lanka to make formal appeal to reverse case against Brig Priyanka Fernando

The Sri Lanka Army has decided to make a formal appeal to the Manchester Magistrate’s Court to reverse the case against former Sri Lanka’s Minister Counsellor (Defence), Brigadier Priyanka Fernando for making an offensive gesture at a group of LTTE supporters in London.

According to Military Spokesman Brigadier Sumith Atapattu the appeal will be made through the Sri Lankan High Commission in London. “The Army will make this appeal seeking to drop the charges against the Brigadier who is a celebrated war hero,” he said.

It is reported that the case against Fernando will be recalled on February 1 and it is expected that the arrest warrant against him will be withdrawn on the day. However, there have also been reports that the arrest warrant has already been withdrawn without adherence to the proper procedure due to diplomatic pressure. 

According to Foreign Secretary Ravinatha Ariyasinghe, Sri Lankan officials had conveyed to the British High Commissioner James Dauris that this incident will set a bad precedent on diplomacy. “We also urged the UK government to ensure the diplomatic immunity Brigadier Priyanka Fernando as a diplomat is rightfully entitled to,” he said.

Earlier, the Foreign Secretary summoned the British High Commissioner James Dauris where the former had sought the intervention of the British Foreign Office to get the Sri Lankan diplomat cleared of the charges filed under the Public Order Act of 1986.

The arguments to absolve him from the case have been made on the grounds that he had diplomatic immunity at the time of the incident as a member of the staff of the Sri Lankan High Commission in London.

A spokesperson for the British High Commission (BHC) in Colombo, Neil Kavanagh said the UK will uphold the Vienna Convention as much as it upholds the rule of law and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is not a party to the legal proceedings against the ex-diplomat.

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