Colombo: In an unpleasant development, which will further strain India's bilateral ties with Sri Lanka, a court in the Island nation on Thursday awarded death penalty to five fishermen hailing from Tamil Nadu for allegedly smuggling drugs.
The court, however, gave them time till November 14 to appeal against the ruling in the country's Supreme Court.
Five Indian fishermen were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy in 2011 over charges of smuggling drugs.
The Indian Government has also reacted to the development and said that it will appeal against the lower court ruling.
MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, “The Indian High Commission in Colombo will appeal through lawyer to higher court against judgement by lower court on 5 Indian fishermen.”
India's High Commission in Colombo will through lawyer appeal to higher Court against judgement by lower Court on 5 Indian fishermen.
— Syed Akbaruddin (@MEAIndia) October 30, 2014
The arrest of Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy has been a major source of contention between the two nations and both New Delhi and Colombo have taken several goodwill gestures to address the issue and improve relations.
Tamil Nadu-based parties including AIADMK and DMK have been regularly pressing the Centre to take up matter with the Sri Lankan authorities seriously and have often boycotted high-profile visits from the small Island nation.