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Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court on Thursday (January 12) ordered former President Maithripala Sirisena to pay $273,334 (100 million Sir Lankan Rupees) as compensation to the victim fund of the 2019 Easter bombings for his negligence in preventing one of the worst terror strikes in the country despite having credible information of an imminent attack. 

A seven-member bench while delivering its judgment relating to 12 fundamental rights petitions said that Easter Sunday was just a few weeks away when the heads-up about the imminent attack came from India, but there was little alertness or perceptiveness shown by officials to carry out any measures to safeguard any of the churches across the country, a report by news agency PTI said. These 12 petitioners included families of the victims, the Catholic clergy, and the lawyers’ body Bar Association of Sri Lanka.

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Apart from Maithripala Sirisena, the court also ordered other former top officials to pay compensation to the victims’ fund. Sri Lanka’s former secretary of defence Hemasiri Fernando has been ordered to pay around $136,062 (50 million Sri Lankan Rupees) while the former Chief of National Intelligence (CNI) Sisira Mendis will pay $27,212 (10 million Sri Lankan Rupees) as compensation. 

Former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Pujith Jayasundera and the former Director of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) Nilantha Jayawardene were ordered to pay $204,093 (75 million Sri Lankan Rupees) each to the victims’ fund. Each victim is to be paid $2,721 (one million Sri Lankan Rupees), said an IANS report on Thursday. 

Easter attacks: 269 killed, at least 500 injured

On April 21, 2019, three churches Negombo, Batticaloa and the capital Colombo and three luxury hotels in Colombo were targeted in a series of Islamic State-related suicide bombings. On the same day, there were smaller explosions at a housing complex in Dematagoda and a guest house in Dehiwala. A total of 269 people, including 45 foreigners, were killed in these attacks while at least 500 were injured. 

The attack caused a political storm in Sri Lanka as former President Maithripala Sirisena and former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe were blamed for their inability to prevent the attacks despite prior intelligence being made available.

At that time, Sirisena appointed a presidential panel of inquiry after the attacks. The panel ironically found him guilty of his failure to prevent the bombings. However, Sirisena pleaded not guilty to the charge in the case filed after the panel’s findings.

(With inputs from agencies)

 

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