By Susitha Fernando
Colombo, Sep 16 (SocialNews.XYZ) Ex-Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena has been summoned to appear before the court in a case in which he was named a suspect over the April 21, 2019 Easter Sunday attacks carried out by an ISIS-connected local extremist group of suicide bombers, killing 296 people. including 11 Indians, and injuring nearly 600 others.
A Colombo Magistrate issued a notice to Sirisena, who was the Defence Minister when the attacks took place in 2019, asking him to appear before the court on October 14 in connection with a case filed by a priest and a victim of the coordinated blasts that ripped apart three churches and three luxury hotels.
The complainants charged that the former President was responsible for the bomb blasts due to criminal negligence. He has also been accused of not acting to avert the attacks despite repeated warning by the intelligent agencies, including detailed information from the Indian intelligent services.
Lawyers for the complainants argued that Sirisena was the Defence Minister from January 2015 to November 2019, and during this period, the State Intelligent Services (SIS) on several occasions had submitted reports detailing the criminal activities carried out by the mastermind and leader of the suicide bombers, Saharan Hashim, and the National Thawheed Jamaat (NTJ).
Spreading the extremist ISIS ideology, Saharan Hashim had delivered talks criticising the Parliament and had stated that those who did not believe in Islam should be massacred, the lawyers said.
Had the former President acted swiftly and arrested Hashim, the disaster could have been averted and loss of lives could have been prevented, it was argued.
Days before the attacks, Sirisena had left the country on a private tour even without appointing an acting Defence Minister, the lawyers pointed out.
The Catholic church has repeatedly accused Sirisena and then Prime Minister and present President Ranil Wickremesingheas, holding them responsible for the attacks due to their negligence.
However, Wickremesinghe as the executive President at present is immune from any law suits against him.
Last week, Wickremesinghe had informed USAID Administrator Samantha Power, who was visiting the island, that the Scotland Yard has been requested to review the investigation reports and reach a final conclusion on the attacks to determine if there was a hidden hand behind the bombings.