05/04/2021, 16.56
SRI LANKA
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Former defence secretary and police chief on trial over Easter Sunday attacks

by Melani Manel Perera

Hemasiri Fernando and Pujith Jayasundara are charged with 800 counts. For Sri Lanka's Attorney General Department, they are guilty of dereliction of duty in connection with the Easter Sunday bombings. Lawyer tells AsiaNews that the charges are “political sloganeering”. The government does not want to punish the real mastermind and perpetrators.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Sri Lanka's Attorney General’s Department filed 800 charges against former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and former Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundara in connection with the 2019 Easter Sunday church bombings.

However, attorney-at-law, Priyalal Sirisena, questions the charges now before the High Court in Colombo, as an attempt to cover up someone else’s responsibilities. In his view, the current government has no intention of prosecuting the real perpetrators of the massacre.

State counsel Nishara Jayaratne explains that the charges were filed out of respect for the dead and wounded and in order to obtain justice. Fernando and Jayasundara, the two accused senior officials, are expected to be tried for murder and attempted murder.

Their serious failings and omissions in the exercise of their duties facilitated the task of the bombers as indicated in the final report of the commission of inquiry.

AsiaNews talked to lawyer Priyalal Sirisena about the issue. He has doubts about the indictments and is critical of the work of the Attorney General’s Department.

“This is only political sloganeering. It is clear that the government is not prosecuting the mastermind nor the perpetrators of the attacks, but is only trying to absolved itself of responsibility for the Easter Sunday attack by prosecuting select individuals.”

At the top of this list is former President Maithripala Sirisena, followed by former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and former Inspector General of Police (PGI) Pujith Jayasundara but “the government has only filed a case against the last two.”

“These two are certainly not the main figures in the attacks. They are being prosecuted for failing to prevent them, but they are not the perpetrators.” For Priyalal Sirisena, “That’s where the problem is.”

In fact, “the former president cannot be prosecuted for what happened during his tenure. No criminal case can be filed against him.” The current government just wants to clear its conscience of any responsibility.

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