Sri Lanka 's Parliament suspended after uproar over jailed lawmaker
Wed December 8, 2004 03:07 EST .
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) A session of Sri Lanka's parliament was twice suspended Wednesday after uproars erupted when opposition lawmakers urged the speaker to allow a jailed senior lawmaker to attend the meeting. Lawmakers in Sri Lanka who have been jailed because they are suspects in a crime are normally allowed out of prison to attend parliament. However, this is the first time a legislator who has been convicted of a crime has tried to take part in the assembly.
Opposition lawmakers Wednesday asked the assembly speaker to instruct prison authorities to bring Dissanayake to parliament.
``The laws don't specify that he cannot take his seat in parliament,'' Mahinda Wijesekera, a legislator of the main opposition United National Front, told the assembly.
But ruling party lawmakers opposed the move and started shouting protests against it.
Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara briefly suspended the meeting and said he would consult with the attorney general on the matter.
He tried to reconvene the session about an hour later, but the meeting was again suspended after lawmakers ran off with the staff that symbolically suspends debate. The object was later returned.
Wijesekera also requested a presidential pardon for Dissanayake, who cannot appeal and cannot contest any election for at least seven years after his sentence is completed.
Published: Wed Dec 8 04:28:15 EST 2004