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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2958

Powerful Kandyan Aristrocrat & Basnayaka Nilame sentenced to death for murdering one of his mistresses

By Walter Jayawardhana

Colombo, 04 August, ( One of the most powerful , wealthy and influential Kandyan aristocrats during the recent past from the gem province of Sabaragamuwa Anton Lincoln Wijewardena Tennekoon was sentenced to death by Colombo High Court Judge Upali Abeyratne for the murder of one of his mistresses Tharanga Kalyani Gankanda.

For a long time the well to do aristocrat, who allegedly believed he was above law has been suspected for many crimes and rumored about them before but this was the first time he was brought before the law and sentenced.

At the beginning of the trial when he got admitted at the Peradeniya Hospital the Judge sent the Colombo Judicial Medical Officer to the hospital to make sure whether he was really not fit to attend the court. When the Chief Judicial medical Officer reported back that the former Basnayaka Nilame of the historic Maha Saman Devalaya was very fit to attend court, the judge quipped that justice has to be meted out impartially both to the powerful and the powerless.

With the advent of capitalism the many landed proprietors of the old aristocracy in Kandyan provinces dwindled in glory, but not the ancient house of Mudduwa Walawwa of Sabaragamuwa , who owned many lands with gem pits. In fact, the Walawwa with many gains by gem fortunes rose up in power making Anton, the secret wish of women.

In addition he was the powerful Basnayaka Nilame of the ancient Maha Saman Devalaya of Ratnapura, one of the island nation’s most famous places of devotion of the all powerful Saman Deviyo where thousands flock to make vows and offer poojas.

At the rate he was going, the playboy nilame was thought to be on his way to become the Diyawadana Nilame of the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy.

He had been always surrounded by henchmen and friends and he never traveled alone. While he traveled in one car the henchmen traveled in a second car behind him. That was the daily routine of his life and during those days of wine and women he allegedly spent lavishly for his mistresses, although he was a married man.

He started falling from grace the day Colombo High Court issued a warrant to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to arrest him and produce him in the courts.

After hearing the medical report of the JMO High Court Judge Abeyratne ordered him to be remanded until the case is over. But he never had a day to go back home as he enters the death row.

President’s Counsel Daya Perera defended him.

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.

The judge said the prosecution has proved beyond any reasonable doubt that he had committed murder on his mistress Tharanga Kalyani Gankanda on February 13, 1999 at Opanayake.

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.

- Asian Tribune -

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