Sunday, October 26, 2014   




Pre-handover agreement no longer valid, Sri Lanka judges rule

Erick Ko

Monday, April 26, 1999

pect freed by appeal court

A SRI LANKAN Court of Appeal has ordered the release of a man wanted

for murder in Hong Kong, ruling that an extradition agreement was no

longer valid after the handover.

The court ordered the release of Attanayake Wasala Panditha

Mudiyanselage Ajith Dangamuwa, the prime suspect in a 1995 murder of

an Indian tourist in Chungking Mansions, Tsim Sha Tsui.

A spokesman for the Security Bureau said the Hong Kong government

respected the decision, but would pursue the matter.

"We will not give up our pursuit of prosecution against Dangamuwa,"

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the spokesman said. "Efforts to bring him to justice will not be

spared."

Sri Lankan Justices J de Silva and Amir Ismail overturned a previous

high court ruling that Dangamuwa could be sent back to Hong Kong. They

ruled that a Commonwealth extradition agreement with Britain applied

to Hong Kong before the handover, but not after.

"Accordingly, I hold that the request for extradition is

frustrated," Mr Justice de Silva ruled.

With the extradition request denied, there was no longer any valid

reason for the authorities to keep Dangamuwa in jail, the judge said.

Dangamuwa, 54, is accused of killing Sushila Pandey, a 37-year-old

Indian tourist who came to Hong Kong in November 1994.

Pandey was strangled to death on 16 February 1995, according to a Hong

Kong coroner's report. She was two months pregnant.

The woman was found dead in a bed inside a room on the eighth floor of

Block A in Chungking Mansions. A police press release issued shortly

after the murder said the person in charge of the guest house received

a call from the room's tenant.

The caller apparently said something had happened in the room. Police

later said the room was rented by Dangamuwa. He and the victim had

reportedly been living together. Robbery was ruled out as the room had

not been ransacked.

Hong Kong asked the Sri Lankan government to extradite Dangamuwa on 12

June 1996 and legal proceedings were begun but did not conclude until

three days before the handover.

The Sri Lankan High Court ruled that Dangamuwa could be extradited,

but he appealed.

The Sri Lankan government argued that the Sino-British Joint

Declaration maintained the extradition agreement. Mr Justice de Silva

disagreed.

"The joint declaration by the two countries does not in any way make

the operation of the international agreements mandatory," he said.

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END


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