British court convicts Sri Lankan general of public order offence

Friday December 06, 2019

A senior Sri Lankan general has been convicted by a British court of committing a criminal offence under Section 4A of the Public Order Act 1986.


The conviction brings to an end the lengthy private prosecution brought by Tamil activists against Brigadier Priyankara Fernando, who issued throat slitting gestures towards Tamil protesters in London on 4 February 2018.


At the time of the incident, the general was the military attache of the Sri Lankan High Commission in London and fled the UK using his diplomatic immunity after Tamil activists prepared to bring private prosecutions against him.


According to the Tamil Guardian, delivering today's landmark ruling, Westminster Magistrate Court's Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said: 'I have no doubt he intended to cause at the least alarm. They were purposeful gestures, made as the Brigadier was staring at these protesters. The Brigadier was a senior officer in uniform wearing medals. Unlike the other senior officer there, his body language appeared to be arrogant and intimidating. There were three gestures and not just one. In the context of the relationship between Sri Lanka and Tamil Elam protesters he must have known that it would have been alarming at the very least to the protesters who saw him do this.'

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