ASIA/SRI LANKA - 2019 Easter attacks, the Supreme Court condemns former President Sirisena

Friday, 13 January 2023 legality   human rights   justice  

Colombo (Agenzia Fides) - The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka has ruled that former President of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena, and four other senior officials were negligent because they did not take the necessary preventive measures to thwart the terrorist attacks on Sunday which killed 279 people, despite well-founded intelligence warnings on April 21, 2019. In a historic sentence delivered today, January 13, the court ruled that Sirisena was specifically responsible for failing to try to prevent the attacks, which saw coordinated suicide attacks on hotels and Catholic churches and which caused more than 500 injuries. Sirisena, 71, was ordered to pay compensation of 100 million rupees (273,000 USD) to the families of the victims who filed the lawsuit. Alongside him, former Sri Lankan police, intelligence and defense chiefs were held accountable and ordered to pay compensation to the relatives of the victims.
This is the first time that a Sri Lankan head of state has been held responsible for failing to prevent a terrorist attack. The verdict aroused great satisfaction among the Sri Lankan population. The Catholic community in Sri Lanka criticized the government's inadequate investigation into the Easter attacks from the start and called on the United Nations for an international investigation.
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, urged the government and public institutions to honor their commitment to bring justice to the victims and "cleanse the country of all elements of terror". Nearly four years after the attacks, which caused death and damage, particularly within the Christian community, the investigations proved insufficient and the recommendations of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry, set up for this purpose, were not implemented. The Catholic bishops, priests and laity called for transparency and supported legal action, called for establishing the possible responsibility of the government or those in positions of power. In recent weeks, the Cardinal had painfully declared that "until today justice has not been done for them, which shows that there are men who have not been prosecuted for the evil that they did".
"As the Catholic Church, we have always asked and we will continue to ask for truth and justice, accountability. We must understand the instigators and the undeclared objectives of these attacks", notes to Fides Father Basil Rohan Fernando, priest of the Archdiocese of Colombo and National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Sri Lanka. "It is a necessary step - he continues - while our people are also suffering from one of the worst economic crises in their history. In recent years we have been close to the families of the victims of the attacks and we always try to support them in this arduous journey of recovery". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 13/1/2023)