Charges framed against former Sri Lankan police chief in 2019 ‘Easter Sunday’ terror attack

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A charge of criminal negligence was framed on Monday against former police chief Pujit Jayasundara for failing to act despite prior intelligence inputs about the 2019 ‘Easter Sunday’ terror attack in Sri Lanka. Around 270 people, including 11 Indians, were killed in these terrorist attacks.

Lawyers said a total of 855 charges of criminal negligence were leveled against Jayasundara since the Sri Lankan High Court had initiated trial proceedings in the case. It has more than 1,200 witnesses. Jayasundara was present in the courtroom when the charges framed against him were read out.

His lawyers insisted that the former inspector general was not guilty of ignoring intelligence he had already received.

Similar allegations are leveled against former Defense Secretary Hemasiri Fernando, who was a key member of the Defense Ministry at the time of the attack in April 2019.

Jayasundara and Fernando were suspended from service and arrested in this connection. However, he was later released on bail. The two were accused by the then President Maithripala Sirisena for their alleged failure to stop the attacks despite prior intelligence being available.

The police had registered more than 23,000 charges against the suspects for planning, abetting and abetting the attack.

Nine suicide bombers belonging to the National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ), a local Islamist extremist group affiliated with ISIS, carried out a series of bombings on three churches and several luxury hotels on April 21, 2019, killing at least 270 people and over 500. More were injured.

During his tenure, Sirisena set up a presidential panel to investigate the attacks.

Sirisena himself, along with several other top defense officials, including Fernando and Jayasundara, were found guilty of ignoring prior intelligence in the President’s Special Investigation.

The panel’s report recommended criminal action against him.

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