Published: Wed, July 03, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Resuming death penalty a major setback - Human Rights Watch

Resuming death penalty a major setback - Human Rights Watch

Sri Lanka's suspended police chief and former Defence Secretary were on Tuesday arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department for their alleged failure to prevent the Easter Sunday bombings that claimed almost 260 lives.

Pujith Jayasundara is the most senior police official to be arrested in the 152-year history of the force, which was established by British colonial rulers in 1867.

Attorney General Dappula De Livera, in a letter written to Acting Police Chief Chandana Wickremaratne on Monday, said Jayasundara and Fernando could face charges of "grave crimes against humanity" for their alleged negligence in failing to prevent the attacks.

Where the death penalty is permitted, global human rights law limits the death penalty to "the most serious crimes", typically crimes resulting in death or serious bodily harm.

Pujith Jayasundara was the IGP at the time of the attacks and Hemasiri Fernando was the Defence Secretary.

Confirming that intelligence on a possible attack was available since April 9, they said it was shared among top police and defence officials, on the eve and morning of the bombings.

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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 hospital.

Three churches and three luxury hotels in Colombo were hit by suicide bombers who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.

He told the committee that Sirisena had instructed to keep Wickremesinghe, with whom he fell out in October, out of security council meetings.

Jayasundara and Fernando have testified before a parliamentary inquiry and accused President Maithripala Sirisena of failing to follow established protocols in assessing threats to national security.

Sri Lanka has been under a state of emergency since the attack. Thereafter, however it was reported that the President had signed death warrants for four convicts.

Jayasundara had told the parliamentary committee, led by allies of Sirisena's rival, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, that the president had asked him to take the blame for the attacks and resign, and claimed that he promised him a diplomatic posting in return.

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