Sri Lankan leader says bill to scrap executions illegal

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka's president says the attorney general has informed him that a bill presented to Parliament last week seeking to abolish the death penalty is illegal.

President Maithripala Sirisena made the comment at a public event Monday.

Lawmaker Bandula Lal Bandarigoda presented a bill in Parliament seeking to abolish the death penalty and commute the sentences of those already on death row to life imprisonment.

The move came after Sirisena signed the death warrants of four prisoners convicted of drug offenses and is seen as an effort by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to stall the planned executions.

Sri Lanka has not executed a prisoner since 1976 and the proposal to end the moratorium drew expressions of concern from nations and rights groups.