Investigation into attacks in Sri Lanka finds ex-President Maithripala Sirisena should bring charges

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Maithripala Sirisena has previously denied any knowledge of the warnings. (FILE)

Colombo:

Sri Lanka’s ex-president and his intelligence chiefs should be prosecuted for failing to prevent suicide bombings on Easter Sunday two years ago that killed 279 people. This was the result of an investigation published on Tuesday.

Maithripala Sirisena, who resigned from office last year, has been found negligent by an investigation he launched five months after militant Islamic attacks on three hotels and three churches on April 21, 2019.

It quickly emerged that Indian intelligence had warned Sri Lanka of the risk of attack 17 days earlier after a suspect gave a lead.

The report by the president’s investigative commission said that Sirisena had been informed of the warnings of the attacks by his intelligence chief.

The commission, which heard from 440 witnesses and sent its report to parliament on Tuesday, said the attorney general should “consider initiating criminal proceedings against (former) President Sirisena under an appropriate provision of the criminal code”.

Sirisena, now a ruling party lawmaker, previously denied knowledge of the warnings and made no comment on the report.

The investigation also found that Sirisena’s intelligence chief, Nilantha Jayawardena, was criminally responsible for failing to heed Indian intelligence’s warnings.

Jayawardena has “diluted the weight of the secret service” from India, the report said.

It added that Police Inspector General Pujith Jayasundara should also be prosecuted for negligence.

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Jayasundara and then senior Defense Department official Hemasiri Fernando are already charged for failing to prevent the attacks.

The report found that the coordinated bombings were funded by the family of a local spice merchant whose two sons were among the suicide bombers.

Two days after the attack, the Islamic State Group took responsibility, but investigators said they had not found a direct link between the local jihadists and ISIS.

The attacks were led by Zahran Hashim, an Islamist known to the Sri Lankan anti-terrorism police and intelligence services.

He had published calls for the killing of non-Muslims on social media and persuaded six young men to sacrifice themselves in the Buddhist majority nation.

The spice merchant’s son, Ilham Ibrahim, died in the Shangri-La Hotel while his brother Inshaf Ibrahim bombed the Cinnamon Grand. Ringleader Hashim also died in the Shangri-La.

Two churches in Colombo and one in the eastern Batticaloa region were also hit by suicide bombers.

(This story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

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