The News Scroll 03 May 2021  Last Updated at 8:38 pm | Source: PTI

2 former Sri Lankan top security officials charged over Easter Sunday terror attacks

2 former Sri Lankan top security officials charged over Easter Sunday terror attacks
(Eds: Updates with more inputs)

Colombo, May 3 (PTI) Sri Lanka’s Attorney General on Monday slapped 800 charges against two top former security officials for their failure to prevent the deadly 2019 Easter Sunday bomb attacks in which over 270 people, including 11 Indians, were killed.

The charges were unveiled in the Colombo High Court by the country''s top law officer Dappula de Livera against former official in the defence ministry Hemasiri Fernando and former chief of police Pujith Jayasundera.

The duo has been accused of neglecting the prior intelligence input on the impending attacks, thereby failing to prevent the loss of life.

Nine suicide bombers, belonging to local Islamist extremist group National Thawheed Jamaat (NTJ) linked to ISIS, carried out coordinated blasts that tore through three churches and as many luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on the Easter Sunday in 2019.

A special presidential panel recently recommended that criminal action be taken against both Fernando, Jayasundera and several other senior defense officials, including former president Maithripala Sirisena.

The trial of Fernando and Jayasundera is to be held before a 3-member bench for murder and attempted murder.

The probe panel appointed by Sirisena himself has found him culpable for the attacks. Sirisena as the then defense minister ordered the arrest of both Fernando and Jayasundera and both were in jail for many months before being given bail.

After the release of the probe report, a former Muslim minister was recently arrested for alleged connivance with the suicide bombers.

Rishad Bathiyutheen, the former minister of commerce, and his brother, who was also arrested, have denied accusations and dubbed the arrest as politically motivated.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the head of the local Catholic church, has been demanding action against Sirisena. The Colombo Church has been holding a ''''Black Sunday'''' congregation every week, demanding justice for the victims.

The Buddhist-majority nation was about to mark a decade since ending a 37-year-long Tamil separatist war in May 2009 when the suicide bombings in 2019 rocked the country.

The attacks caused a political storm as the then government headed by President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was blamed for its inability to prevent the deadly attacks despite the prior intelligence made available on the impending terror strikes.

During his tenure, Sirisena formed a presidential panel to probe the attacks. In its report, the panel said Sirisena and a host of other top defence officials, including former defence secretaries, former IGPs and intelligence chiefs, were guilty of ignoring prior intelligence.

The panel report recommended criminal action against them. The panel had recommended that findings against Sirisena and the then police top brass be referred to the Attorney General for necessary legal action.

Sirisena has publicly denied receiving any prior information on the attacks. PTI CORR MRJ AKJ MRJ

Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI
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