Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith  (ANSA)

Sri Lankan Cardinal hails ruling condemning Sirisena for Easter bombings

The Archbishop of Colombo welcomes the Supreme Court‘s verdict condemning former President Maithripala Sirisena to pay compensation to the families of the victims of the bombing attacks of 21 April 2019.

By Lisa Zengarini

The former president of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena, and four top officials have been sentenced by the Sri Lankan Supreme Court to pay 100 million rupees (273,000 USD) in compensation to the families of the victims of the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings.

The ruling was issued on 12 January, following a lawsuit filed by 13 families, and local Church leaders and activists.

The Islamist suicide attacks, which hit three churches and three hotels in Colombo on 21 April 2019, killed over 270 people and injured about 500.

Sirisena and 4 officials resposible for failing to prevent the attacks

According to the court’s verdict, Sirisena failed to prevent the massacre despite detailed intelligence reports suggesting such attacks were imminent. The main perpetrator of the attacks, Zaharan Hashim, had been on the state’s watch list for several years.

Along with Sirisena, former Sri Lankan police, intelligence and defense chiefs have been held accountable for not adopting preventive measures and ordered to pay compensation to the relatives of the victims.

This is the first time a Sri Lankan head of state has been found guilty for failing to prevent a terrorist attack. Sirisena had already been held responsible over the massacre by a special presidential probe on the case, but had never faced trial.  

Ranjith: An historic breakthrough

The Supreme Court’s verdict is a major breakthrough after nearly four years of deadlock in the investigation, in which the Church and families of the victims have insistently accused Sri Lankan authorities of having neglected intelligence reports on the impending terrorist attacks, and then of covering up the real culprits for political gain.

These accusations have been voiced repeatedly and vehemently by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo, who in a press conference on Friday, 13 January, hailed the Supreme Court’s ruling as “historic”.

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16 January 2023, 16:28