The former Basnayake Nilame of the Ratnapura Saman Dewale created an emotional scene in Courts yesterday crying out that he be hanged immediately claiming that his self respect and image had been devastated after death penalty was imposed on him over the killing of his mistress more than eight years ago.
`Hang me here now. This murder has destroyed my self-respect and today it destroyed my soul too,` former Basnayake Nilame Anton Lincoln Wijeywardena Tennakone told the Colombo High Court when the conviction was announced.
Death penalty was imposed on the accused who was convicted with committing the murder of Tharanga Kalyani Gankanda by shooting on February 13, 1999 at Opanayake.
High Court Judge Upali Abeyratne who convicted the accused said the prosecution had proved the case beyond reasonable doubt.
Making a statement from the dock after the conviction was announced, the accused denied his involvement in the murder.
He said he loved Tharanga a lot and he did not kill her. `If she was killed I too would have died. If I had shot her, I would have shot myself as well,` the accused told court.
`I lost my self dignity earlier and now I lost my soul too. Kill me here itself and finish me. I would be happier if you do so,` the accused said.
Swearing in the name of god Saman and in his five children, the former Basnayake Nilame denied involvement in the murder.
`This must be my fate. This must be the punishment I received for a grave sin I had committed during my previous birth. I believe in such twists as I am a Buddhist. You will some day realise that you have sentenced an innocent to death,` the accused told court.
He also said he could have gone abroad without facing the trial but he did not do so as he did not commit this offence.
During the trial the defence argued that the death of Tharanga Kalyani Gankanda was either a mistake or a suicide and not a murder. However delivering the judgement, the High Court judge held that it was a murder by shooting. This had been proved with the expert evidence of Prof. Chandrasiri Niriella and the Government Analyst, he said.