The UN has expressed concerns over the release of a convicted Sri Lankan soldier, who was sentenced in 2015 for the murder of eight civilians after more than a decade long trial, a media report said.

Rupert Colville, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, said that the High Commissioner was troubled by reports that Sunil Ratnayake, convicted perpetrator of the 2000 Mirusuvil massacre, has received a Presidential Pardon and was released from jail this week, the Colombo Gazette newspaper reported on Friday.

Five defendants were brought to trial but only Ratnayake was convicted.

The conviction was confirmed by the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka in May 2019.

The Colombo Gazette quoted Colville as saying that the Presidential pardon was yet another example of the failure of Sri Lanka to fulfil its international human rights obligations to provide meaningful accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other gross violations of human rights.

He said that victims of such violations and crimes have the right to a remedy and this includes equal and effective access to justice and reparation, and that perpetrators serve a punishment that was proportionate to the seriousness of their conduct.

Colville said that pardoning one of the sole convicted perpetrators of atrocities committed during the Sri Lankan conflict further undermined the limited progress the country has made towards ending impunity for mass human rights abuse.