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UK woman with Buddha tattoo wins Rs 800,000 compensation from Sri Lanka

Naomi Coleman was detained for four days in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo in April 2014 for having a tattoo of the Buddha on her arm.

world Updated: Nov 15, 2017 18:01 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India, Colombo / London
Buddha tattoo,UK woman with Buddha tattoo,crime in Sri Lanka
Naomi Coleman shows the tattoo of the Buddha on her arm. (AFP file photo)

A British woman tourist who was deported from Sri Lanka in 2014 for having a tattoo of the Buddha on her arm won Rs 800,000 on Wednesday as compensation from the island nation’s Supreme Court over her treatment.

Naomi Coleman took legal action after being detained for four days in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo in April 2014.

Justice Anil Gooneratne with Justices Eva Wanasundera and Nalin Perera agreed with the judgement to award Coleman Rs 500,000 as compensation payable by the State and Rs 50,000 each by the two police officers who were involved in her arrest of the British national.

The apex court also awarded Rs 200,000 as costs payable by the State, Sri Lankan newspaper Daily Mirror reported.

Sri Lankan authorities take strict action against perceived insults to Buddhism, which is the religion of the island’s majority ethnic Sinhalese.

Coleman’s lawyer, JC Weliamuna told the BBC that her deportation had been “contrary to the law governing immigration and emigration”.

A Sri Lankan police spokesman had said in 2014 that she was arrested for “hurting others’ religious feelings” after the tattoo of Buddha seated on a lotus flower was spotted on her right arm.

Speaking after her return to the UK, Coleman, who was arrested at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo, said the detention had left her “really frightened”.

“I was told I had to go to court and then I started to get really worried,” she said at the time.

Following her deportation order, she spent a night in prison in Negombo and two nights in a detention centre while security checks were carried out.

Coleman said she told police that she practised Buddhism and had attended meditation retreats and workshops in Thailand, India, Cambodia and Nepal.

First Published: Nov 15, 2017 18:01 IST