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Wedding bells in Welikada prison

A convicted prisoner in Sri Lanka has married his bride in a high-security prison, with senior prison officials and some politicians on hand to give their blessing.

Wedding ceremony
Ceremony at welikada prison

The ceremony was organised by the prison superintendent. The man, Ramiah Ravindran, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2004 after four years in jail.

convicted for life

His supporters say his case is typical of those convicted under anti-terrorism legislation which they say is draconian.

The photos show this Tamil couple from the Sri Lankan highlands exchanging garlands and observing all the traditional rituals central to Hindu weddings here.

But behind the family and friends, men in uniform are visible. The setting is the Welikada prison, and the young bride can’t spend long in the company of her groom and long-time sweetheart, Ramiah Ravindran, because he’s been in jail since 2000, later convicted for life under the Prevention of Terrorism Act or PTA.

Vickramabahu Karunaratne, a leftist politician campaigning for his release, says that despite the “terrorism” label Mr Ravindran’s offence was damaging a water tank during a strike called by him and other workers on a tea estate.

convicted under the PTA

He said that on a recent appeal the sentence was reduced to 12 years. But a human rights lawyer, Chandrapala Kumarage, said Sri Lanka has several hundred prisoners convicted under the PTA for offences which appear to have no connection with terrorism, caught by a clause which simply outlaws “unlawful activity”.

Mr Kumarage said that because the act only required detainees to be brought to a magistrate after three months, he knew of some held for six or seven years with no trial and of some who had lost contact with their relatives if the latter lived far away.

The police spokesman, Prishantha Jayakody, said he couldn’t comment on individual cases but he believed PTA cases were all connected with terrorist involvement – otherwise, he said, they would come under normal law.

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