Former Defense Secretary Hemasiri Fernando acquitted and released from Easter Sunday attack case

(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – A three-judge bench of the Colombo High Court today ordered the acquittal and release of former Defense Secretary Hemasiri Fernando of all charges in connection with the Easter Sunday attack.

Hemasiri Fernando was charged with criminal misconduct for failing to take action to prevent a terrorist attack on Easter Sunday, despite receiving intelligence prior to the attack on 21 April 2019.

The order was issued today by the three-judge bench comprising justices Namal Balalle, Aditya Patabendige and Mohamed Irshadeen.

Following a lengthy trial, the judges issued an order acquitting and releasing the accused without a call for defense statement.

Announcing the order, Judge Mohamed Irshadeen said that the Attorney General should have thought twice before filing this case.

Announcing his decision, Judge Aditya Patabendige said the evidence shows that the accused was in a helpless position in making decisions.

Judge Patabendige also said that it appeared that the witness former head of the State Intelligence Service had neglected his responsibilities and placed the blame on the Chief of National Intelligence. Judge Patabendige stated that even ordering the accused’s arrest was problematic.

Former Defense Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and former IGP Pujith Jayasundara have been charged with failing to take action to prevent a series of suicide bombings targeting Catholic churches and star hotels on Easter Sunday April 21, 2019 despite receiving prior information.

The Attorney General had filed 864 indictments under Sections 296 and 300 of the Penal Code, including attempted murder against the two former officials.

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