Sri Lanka IGP, ex-defence chief remanded over Easter Sunday probe

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s police chief Pujith Jayasundara and former secretary to the ministry of defence, Hemasiri Fernando were remanded in custody Wednesday till July 9.

Jayasundara who is currently on compulsory leave as well as Fernando who resigned shortly after the Easter Sunday attacks have been accused of negligence leading to a loss of life and damage to property.

Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne ordered that the two men be held till she decides on bail.

Jayaratne asked on what basis the state was insisting on the men being held in custody. Deputy Solicitor General Thusith Mudalige said they were named as suspects following a president board of inquiry which found them negligent.

Mudalige admitted that a three-member panel that included a retired Inspector General N. K. Illangakoon was not constituted under any written law of the country and was merely a fact-finding exercise.

However, based on the findings of that committee, the Attorney General Dappula de Livera asked the acting police chief to initiate action against the two senior officers.

Defence lawyers maintained that neither Jayasundara nor Fernando had precise information from the State Intelligence Service (SIS) which directly brief President Maithripala Sirisena.

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Police are already at loggerheads with the Attorney General over the case.

In a letter dated June 27, de Livera told the Acting IGP that there was enough evidence to try the two men for murder under section 296 of the penal code, a position that the Criminal Investigations Department does not agree with based on their investigations.

The CID is understood to have made it clear that they did not have enough material to proceed with a murder charge, but criminal negligence was very much the focus of their case.

Soon after de Livera released his communications with the Acting IGP suggesting that he was keen to have the two men arrested, both Jayasundara and Fernando got themselves admitted to two hospitals from where they were arrested on Tuesday. (COLOMBO, July 2, 2019)