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Sri Lanka's Supreme Court orders release of buddhist monk

By S.S.Selvanayagam, The Daily Mirror, Sept 9, 2008

Colombo, Sri Lanka -- The Supreme Court yesterday ordered the immediate release of Rajagiriya Welikadewatte Temple’s Chief Incumbent Ven Pannala Pangnaloka Thera who was remanded last week over a sound pollution case.

The release order came following a motion filed by Counsel Prasantha Lal de Alwis on behalf of the monk stating that he never willfully intended to disrespect the court of law.

The Bench comprising Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva, Justices Shirani Tilakawardane and N.G. Amaratunga accepting the explanation discharged the monk with immediate effect. The monk said the Welikada police had arrested him on an issue of using loudspeakers and that he was produced before the Colombo Magistrate.

The Ven. Thera said the Magistrate had said that the case would be referred to the Supreme Court but nobody ever mentioned to him on which date he was supposed to attend the court.

The monk said under the circumstance, he was not aware that he should be present before the Supreme Court on that date and besides he was totally unaware of the incident that took place on September 5.

He said he had no knowledge or involvement in that matter and did not approve such incidents.

“I do respect the rule of law in Sri Lanka and do not advocate any unlawful act” the monk said.

Attorney Prashantha Lal de Alwis instructed by Rakitha Jayatunga appeared for the monk.

The proceedings last week drew controversy after the monk and around 100 other Buddhist monks who were present remained seated in the Supreme Court when the Chief Justice and other judges walked in for the hearing.

The Supreme Court Bench comprising Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva, Justices Shirani Tilakawardane and N.G. Amaratunga had earlier issued a warrant directing the Welikada OIC to arrest the Ven. Pangnaloka Thera and remand him till September 15 as he was not present in court despite the notice issued by it with regard to the sound pollution case.

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