Former Sri Lanka officials granted bail

In a setback to Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, a court here on Tuesday granted bail to former Defence Secretary and suspended police chief, saying there was no basis for their arrests.

Former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and police chief Pujith Jayasundera were suspended by President Sirisena for their alleged inaction on the intelligence shared by India, which warned of an impending attack by Islamist militants, and thereby, failing to prevent the Easter attacks. They were arrested last week after Attorney General Dappula de Livera instructed the authorities to charge them for their failure to prevent the blasts on April 21 that claimed 258 lives.

Delivering a lengthy order, Colombo chief Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne said that the judiciary was not obliged to keep people in jail to please the wishes of the police or anyone else. Ms. Jayaratne ruled there was no sufficient facts against the suspects to constitute a murder charge. She said the commission of inquiry appointed by President Sirisena was not a sufficient ground to arrest and detain the two officials.

She regretted that not even a statement had been recorded from Mr. Jayasundera and Mr. Fernando before their detention.

President Sirisena had appointed a three-member panel to probe the negligence by the top officials despite the availability of intelligence inputs on the impending attacks.

Both Mr. Jayasundera and Mr. Fernando have testified before an ongoing parliamentary probe panel on the attacks. Both of them claimed that there was discounting of the seriousness of the threat at the very highest level.

The eight coordinated suicide attacks were carried out by local Jihadi group National Thowheed Jammath (NTJ) linked to the ISIS.

President Sirisena has slammed the parliamentary probe as one to pin blame on him and accused Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe of being the mover behind the panel.

The opposition blames the government’s inability to prevent the suicide bombings due to the ongoing power struggle between Mr. Sirisena and Mr. Wickremesinghe.

Mr. Wickremesinghe has said that he had been excluded from attending the national security council by Mr. Sirisena since October last year.


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