Asia Pacific

Sri Lanka defense secretary and police chief arrested over Easter bombing ‘negligence’

Sri Lankan police on Tuesday, July 2 arrested their top commander and a former defense chief over their alleged failures to prevent the Easter Sunday bombings that killed 258 people, spokesperson Ruwan Gunasekera said.

He said Inspector-General Pujith Jayasundara and former Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Hemasiri Fernando were arrested a day after the attorney general said their failure to heed security warnings amounted to a crime against humanity.

Both men were at different hospitals undergoing treatment when detectives arrested them, Gunasekera said, adding the move followed instructions from Attorney General Dappula de Livera who said they could press murder charges.

De Livera said Monday that they failed to act on advance warnings of the deadly Easter Sunday attacks.

They should be brought before a magistrate for their “criminal negligence” de Livera said in a letter to the acting police chief.

“Their negligence amounts to what is known under international law to be grave crimes against humanity,” he wrote.

Another nine senior police officers have been named by the attorney-general as suspects who should be prosecuted for their role in the security lapses.

On June 24, De Livera said that a presidential commission of inquiry had found “major lapses” by Fernando, who resigned from his job after the deadly April 21 bombings.

President Maithripala Sirisena suspended Jayasundara after he refused to step down over the handling of the attacks.

Some 45 foreign nationals were among the dead and 500 people were injured in the attacks on three churches and three hotels in the country. The tourist hotspot has been under a state of emergency since.

Jayasundara and Fernando have testified before a parliamentary inquiry and accused President Maithripala Sirisena, who is also defense minister and law and order minister, of failing to follow established protocols in assessing threats to national security.

Sri Lanka’s State Intelligence Service has also been criticized for failing to act on the Indian warnings, but no one from the state spy service has been put under investigation.

Indian intelligence shared information about the targets, gleaned from a suspected jihadist in Indian custody, as early as April 4, more than two-and-a-half weeks before the attacks.

Sri Lanka police find explosives at ISIS video location

With reporting from AFP

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