By Chathuri Dissanayake
The Colombo Magistrate yesterday remanded both IGP Pujitha Jayasundara and former Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Hemasiri Fernando until today, for neglecting their duty to prevent the terror attacks on Easter Sunday, which killed over 250 people.
Colombo Chief Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne placed the two top officials in remand custody, after the Criminal Department (CID) of the Police presented the reports to the Court. Deputy Solicitor General Thusith Mudalige, presenting a report, informed the Judge that investigations carried out revealed that both officials had prior knowledge of the attacks, but failed to carry out their duty and prevent the attacks, which caused loss of life and damage to property.
The CID arrested both Inspector General of Police Pujitha Jayasundara and former Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Hemasiri Fernando, following instructions given by the Attorney General Dappula de Livera, Police Spokesman SSP Ruwan Gunasekera said.
The arrests came immediately after the Attorney General wrote to the Acting Inspector General, demanding explanations as to why individuals were not arrested as instructed by him on 27 June. The AG ordered the arrest of the two top officials on several charges under several articles in Sri Lanka’s penal code, including “grave crimes against humanity.”
The two officials, who were arrested while they were receiving treatment in State-run hospitals after being admitted yesterday morning, are the first Government officials to be arrested in connection to the Easter Sunday bombings.
“The Criminal Investigation Department four days ago initiated investigations against former Secretary of Ministry of Defence Hemasiri Fernando and Inspector General of Police Pujitha Jayasundara, who was sent on compulsory leave, following AG instructions. The CID had informed them to give statements today at 10 am at the head office, and to carry out further investigations,” SSP Gunasekara said in a statement.
Both Jayasundara and Fernando failed to appear before CID as instructed yesterday morning, prompting the investigators to visit them in hospitals. CID recorded a statement from IGP Jayasundara, who was admitted to Police Hospital in Narahenpita, and later arrested him. Fernando was arrested while receiving treatment at the National Hospital. Colombo Chief Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne placed both in remand after visiting them in hospital.
Jayasundara, who was serving as the Inspector General of the Police in April, is the first serving IGP to be arrested in the country’s history. He was sent on compulsory leave in connection with the Easter Sunday bomb attacks.
During the hearings of the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Easter Sunday bomb attacks, Jayasundara said that he was asked to resign from his post, with the promise of a different Government post.
Hemasiri Fernando, who was serving as the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, resigned from his post several days after the Easter Sunday attacks.