France Sri Lanka Cultural Exchanges - Suriyakantha

  The bilingual site devoted to the cultural life in Sri Lanka and in France                                                        
Le site bilingue consacré à la vie culturelle au Sri Lanka et en France

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Fascination of the body

Paul Cézanne

In the Light of Gauguin


Jean de La Fontaine

Malraux / Segalen


Pigeon houses in Quercy






Mental Health



Miniatures of Kangra, India


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24 août 2001

He has been declared innocent after 18 years in the death row.

A condemned American who was for 18 years in the death row has been declared guiltless, following the communication of DNA tests and released from a prison in Idaho.

In 1982, Charles Fain has been condemned to death for the rape and the murder of a nine years old girl. At this time, the FBI assessed that the hair found on the victim was belonging to him. The tests give the evidence of the contrary.

According to the Information center on death penalty, Charles Fain is the 97th condemned to death being declared innocent and released from the death rows in 23 different States since 1973.
The death penalty was reestablished in 1976 in United States.
From 1976, 727 condemned have been executed - 44 in 2000.

"The First World Congress against Death Penalty"
June 21st, 22nd and 23rd, 2001, Strasbourg (France)

At the dawn of this New Millenium, death penalty is applied by almost 50% of the Sates in the world !

Five States record 85% of the executions: China, United States, Democratic Republic of Congo and Saudi Arabia.

The Association « Ensemble contre la peine de mort » (Together against the death penalty) mobilizes around the world in order to promote the universal abolition of the death penalty. This association circulates a petition asking for a moratorium.

The workshop proceedings appear on the following web site :

30 March 2001

Jacques Chirac calls for the universal abolition of death penalty

    Jacques Chirac, the first French president to speak at the Commission of Human Rights in Geneva, presented himself as a defender of humanism and liberty, by calling solemnly for "the universal abolition of the death penalty."

    The first step should be "a general moratorium", he said. "More than hundred countries have abolished the death penalty, and every year 3 or 4 new States

join the camp of abolitionists as the conviction is deeply implanted that, in no way, death could not constitute an act of justice". He also highlighted that "no justice is infallible" and "each execution can kill an innocent".

In 1981, Jacques Chirac was in the minority of conservative parliamentarians who voted in favour of the abolition of the death penalty proposed by socialist Robert Badinter.

The French president addresses the same condemnation to USA and also to all countries which implement the death penalty, such as India, China and Muslim countries.

United States of America

Number of prisoners who are under the shade of the death is 3700.
In 1999, 100 were executed.
In Texas (20 million inhabitants), where G. W. Bush is the Governor, 149 prisoners have been executed in 5 years. This is a bigger number than the number of executions in France (58 million inhabitants) from the end of the Second World War.

USA are the last great democratic country which has not abolished the death penalty :
680 executions since 1977.

The State of Texas breaks the dreadful
record in the number of executions (40)
during one year in an American State. (AFP)

    The debate is reactivated with the arrival of Georges W. Bush at the White House.

    The man who is nicknamed by abolitionists all around the world as the "Texecutioner" (149 demands of execution during his five years mandate of Governor) has received an open letter from the General Secretary of Amnesty International. He is invited to place human rights at the "forefront of his programme".

    Le Monde2, February 2001.

The International Context

According to Amnesty International :

at least 2,258 prisoners in 37 countries were known to have been executed in 1998. In 1998, 86% cent of all known executions took place in China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the USA and Iran.

4,845 persons in 78 countries were known to have received death sentences.

Internationally, capital punishment is widely considered as a human rights issue.

Three major international protocols & covenants calling for worldwide abolition of the death penalty are sponsored by the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and the Council of Europe.

Sri Lanka

Daily News, Friday 24th November 2000.

Death penalty to be executed

The Central Executive Committee of the People's Alliance decided on Wednesday to have the "death penalty" executed to curb the growing trend of crime. The Committee also agreed to amend laws regarding the bailing out of criminals and prevention of prolonging delay court cases.


The Island, Friday 24th November 2000,
By Shamindra Ferdinando

Govt. decides to implement death penalty

The government on Wednesday (22) decided to implement the death penalty as part of a series of proposed tough measures to combat rising wave of crime and violent incidents, senior party officials said yesterday.
The decision was taken at an Executive Committee meeting of the People's Alliance held on Wednesday night.


Saturday 18, November 2000, Daily News
by Kumar Wethasinghe

Death penalty for Hokandara killers

Three of the four accused in the Hokandara mass killings were sentenced to death after being convicted by the Trial-at-Bar at Hulftsdorp, yesterday. They were found guilty of the cold blooded murders of a family of six at Amaragoda Road, Hokandara in February, last year.


Saturday 18, November 2000, The Island
By Chitra Weerarathne

Death sentence for Hokandara murderers

(Pic. by Eranga Jayawardena)

    The High Court Trial-at-Bar held in Colombo yesterday imposed a death sentence and a rigorous imprisonment term of 40 years, on the first three accused persons found guilty of the murder of five members of one family at Hokandara last year.

    These three accused persons were convicted of murder and also convicted of gang rape and robbery.

The rigorous imprisonment for the latter two offences running consequitively, amounted to a total of 40 years.

The fourth accused was convicted of gang rape only with a 20 year RI term. The three member Trial-at-Bar comprised three High Court Judges.

Six members of one family were murdered on October 10, 1999 at Hokandara at the home of the deceased.

The details of the judgement explained that the first three convicts are the first three accused persons, namely H. E. Menaka Sanjeewa alias Ukkuwa (aged 19 years), K. J. Sampathsri Nandana (25 yrs), S. A. Mahinda Siriwardene (21 yrs.).

Death sentences were imposed on them for the killing of 5 persons.

The first three accused and the fourth accused H. P. Gayan Suranga (aged 17 years), were all convicted for the gang rape of Chitra Dayangani on the day of the killing. They were each imposed 20 years rigorous imprisonment.


Daily News, Friday 01st December 2000.

Two sentenced to death

Death sentence was passed by High Court Judge Balapitiya Mahanama Tilakaratne on the wife and her paramour who killed her husband conjointly with her lover at Pathegama, Balapitiya on 31.5.1991.

The two accused were Madihe Nandasena de Zoysa and Kusamalatha Zoysa of Pathegama, Balapitiya. The charges were framed against these two accused by the Ahungalla police for cutting and murdering Handunetti Wimalasena de Zoysa of Pathegama.

The deceased's body was found inside a well with severe cut marks.

The second accused Kusumalatha daughter gave evidence against her mother and their servant girl also gave evidence against the second accused.

PC Ameen appeared on behalf of first accused and Mahatunge attorney-at-law appeared for second accused. State Counsel Madhava Tennekoon prosecuted.


Sunday Leader, Sunday 3rd December 2000.

Wanted : a hangman

Despite the government deciding to revive the death sentence, the gallows are in need of a hangman. "Yes, we are in need of a hangman," Justice Minister Batty Weerakoon told The Sunday Leader.

The minister however observed that there would not be much difficulty in finding a replacement. "I don't see any difficulty. Our society is so brutalised, there will be so many assiparants," he said.

The gallows have not been put to operation since 1976. The former hangman, a father and a son, are long since deceased. The prisons department has kept the gallows at Welikada and Bogambara in proper working order with constant servicing.

There are 57 condemned prisoners at Welikada. Family members of some of the prisoners told The Sunday Leader that the prisoners have been given a new uniform and separated.Their heads have been shaven and told that they have to wait till President Chandrika Kumaratunga returns from abroad to know their fate.

Minister Weerakoon reiterated that not all 57 cases on death row will be executed. "Only those who do not qualify in the final overview of the sentences passed will be executed," he said. The justice minister asserted that each case will be studied and independent observations made by both himself and the Attorney General K. C. Kamalasabayson. These observations will be submitted to President Kumaratunga for a final verdict.

Meanwhile, Ricardo Bradley Keegal, sentenced to death 15 years ago for the murder of Tony Martin has already been prepared for execution. Members of the Keegal family told The Sunday Leader Ricardo has had his hair cut very short and dressed in a white sarong and white shirt. Keegal has been told to ready himself for execution. He has been sentenced to death together with a Chinese national Sheik' who was also found guilty. All three were former rugby players for Havelocks.

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