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 Post subject: Aristocrat & playboy Basnayaka nilame sentenced to death
 Post Posted: Sat Aug 04, 2007 3:39 pm 
Powerful Kandyan Aristrocrat & Basnayaka Nilame sentenced to death for murdering one of his mistresses

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. This was the first time he was brought before the law and sentenced. “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.

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@ Asiantribune / Sat, 2007-08-04
By Walter Jayawardhana


Colombo, 04 August, (Asiantribune.com): 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 -



‘Hang me now,’ says former Basnayake Nilame
Court imposes death sentence

@ DM / By Susitha R. Fernando
Saturday, August 04, 2007


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.


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 Post subject: Re: Aristocrat & playboy Basnayaka nilame sentenced to death
 Post Posted: Sun Aug 29, 2010 10:02 am 
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Joined: Fri Aug 12, 2005 12:54 pm
Posts: 192
Convicted Basnayake Nilame pardoned

By Ishtartha Wellaboda
@ SL / 29 Sun 2010


The former Basnayake Nilame of the Maha Saman Devalaya of Ratnapura, Anton Tennakoon, who was serving a life sentence for murder, was released under a Special Presidential Pardon on Thursday, Prisons Commissioner-General V R de Silva confirmed last night. Tennakoon had been imprisoned at the Welikada Prison since being convicted of murdering Tharanga Kalyani Gankandage on August 3, 2007.

During Tenakoon’s trial, the defence claimed that the victim was having an extra-marital affair with Tennakoon and that she had committed suicide over an argument between them. The prosecution, however, had argued that the bullet casings matching the shells that were found in the body were not found in the bedroom where she was said to have committed suicide.

They also argued that sufficient bloodstains were not found in the bedroom where she was said to have died. When the court ordered Tennakoon to show cause why a death sentence should not be imposed on him, he stated that he had not been given a fair hearing. He alleged that he was not given an opportunity, at least, to explain the incident to his counsel. Tennakoon said he did not kill Kalyani and someone else might have done it.


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