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Sri Lanka court acquits two senior security officials in 2019 Easter Bombings case

Sri Lankan High Court acquitted two top security officials who were accused of crimes against humanity for failing to stop the 2019 Easter Bombings case, a series of terror bombings that killed 259 people

Feb 19, 2022
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Easter Bombings case 2019: Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan High Court acquitted two top security officials who were accused of crimes against humanity for failing to stop the 2019 Easter Bombings case, a series of terror bombings that killed 259 people.  

Security officials had received prior intelligence alerts from Indian and other foreign intelligence agencies but failed to stop the attacks, executed by a local jihadi and affiliate of ISIS, targeting hotels and churches. Over 500 people were injured. 45 foreigners, including Americans, were among 259 dead. 

On Friday, the three-judge panel dismissed all 855 charges against former defense secretary Hemasiri Fernando and former Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundara. Both charged in the case last year were unanimously exonerated by the court without even testifying defense witnesses. 

The top officials were arrested in 2019 after the government came under pressure for its security lapses. Significantly, the Presidential Inquiry Commission, which was constituted to conduct a thorough probe into the attacks, suggested the government slap criminal negligence charges against former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and prosecute him. 

The government-led President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is yet to act on the report. 

The former defense secretary and police chief were the top officials tried in the case while no actions have been taken against elected officials.

The two officials had also testified in a parliamentary committee and said former President Mathripala Sirisena, who was also in charge of then minister of defense and law and order, failed to act on security alerts. 

Prosecutors, however, failed to establish motives and links with attackers.  

Zahran Hashim, a local Wahabbi cleric, was the mastermind of the attacks. Three weeks before the attack, Indian Intelligence agencies issued their first alert to Sri Lankan authorities about potential attacks. Another warning was issued days before the attack. 

Reports also indicated a similar alert was also issued by Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI. 

(SAM)

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