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India hopeful that fishermen issue will be resolved

PTI 01 Nov 2014, 7:12:33 AM IST

New Delhi: India has said it has conveyed its ‘concern' to Sri Lanka over the death sentence given by a court there to five Indian fishermen and expressed confidence that the matter will be resolved satisfactorily.

"Our High Commissioner today in Colombo has had detailed discussions with the lawyers. Their assessment is that there has been miscarriage of justice and they would like to appeal against that," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akabaruddin said here on Friday.

As of now, the lawyers are waiting for an authenticated or final judgement and based on that they will take next action, which will include appeal against the verdict.

"There is a concern in our government on this judgement and this concern has been conveyed to the Sri Lankan government both here at the top most level of their representation as well as in Sri Lanka including Foreign Minister and Sri Lankan Defence Secretary...," he said.

The five Indians are among a group of eight people sentenced to death by Colombo High Court judge Preethi Padman Surasena for alleged involvement in heroin trafficking between India and Sri Lanka in 2011. The rest three are Sri Lankans.

Government, which has been pursuing their case for the last four years, maintains that it has done due diligence and found them to be innocent.

Expressing confidence that the matter will be resolved satisfactorily, the Spokesperson referred to a previous case wherein two Indians were given death sentence by a Sri Lankan court which was later commuted to life term by the Sri Lankan President under executive order.

The two were shifted to India under a treaty for transfer of sentenced prisoners and one of them was out last year after completing his term while another was still in prison, he added.

Reassuring that there was a legal architecture between the two countries to address such cases, the Spokesperson said people should allow the process to be completed and also that executive order can only be kicked-in after the legal process was completed.