COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Sri Lankan authorities Thursday, June 20, ordered the first criminal charges against security personnel for “lapses” before the Easter Sunday suicide bombings that killed 258 people.
Nine police officers will face “criminal investigations” for failing to act on warnings ahead of the April 21 bombings on 3 churches and 3 hotels carried out by Islamic State-backed jihadists.
In a notice ordering the probe, Attorney General Dappula de Livera said an inquiry commission appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena had found the officers liable for criminal negligence.
All 9 were senior officers in the districts where the attacks were carried out.
Authorities have admitted that warnings sent by neighboring India of an impending attack by a local group, the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) were ignored.
Forty-five foreign nationals were among the dead and 500 people were injured in the attacks. The tourist hotspot has been under a state of emergency since.
Sri Lanka’s State Intelligence Service (SIS) has been criticized for failing to act on the Indian warnings.
Sirisena, who is also defense minister and law and order minister, has also faced allegations that he could have prevented the attacks.
The president has objected to a parliamentary investigation into the attacks and ordered police not to cooperate. But the hearings have gone ahead and police have testified before legislators.
Earlier this month, Sirisena sacked national intelligence chief Sisira Mendis after he testified that the attacks could have been prevented.
Mendis said the president had failed to hold regular security meetings to assess security threats.
Defense secretary Hemasiri Fernando and police chief Pujith Jayasundara also suggested Sirisena did not follow proper protocol in dealing with the intelligence warnings from India.
Fernando was forced to resign, while Jayasundara has been suspended from duty.
Indian intelligence shared information about the targets – gleaned from a jihadist in Indian custody – as early as April 4. – Rappler.com