BY Buddhika Samaraweera
The Special Trial-At-Bar appointed by Chief Justice President’s Counsel (PC) Jayantha Jayasuriya at the request of Attorney General (AG) Sanjay Rajaratnam PC in connection with the main case of the Easter Sunday terror attacks of 21 April 2019, served indictments yesterday (4) on 24 accused over the attacks, including against Mohamed Naufar alias Naufar Moulavi, who the Government has named the mastermind behind the said bombings.
On 13 September, the special Trial-At-Bar appointed to hear 23,270 charges against 25 accused who are allegedly connected to the Easter Sunday terror attacks, issued summons to the said 25 accused to appear before the Trial-At-Bar yesterday.
However, the 15th accused in the case, Mohammad Hanifa Zainul Abdeen, was not produced before the court by the prisons authorities as he is currently infected with Covid-19. The remaining 24 accused were served indictments.
The next hearing pertaining to the case is to be taken up on 23 November 2021.
The special Trial-At-Bar was appointed on 1 September and is headed by High Court (HC) Judge Damith Thotawatte. The other two members are High Court Judges Amal Ranaraja and Navaratne Marasinghe.
The AG had filed indictments in the High Court against 25 accused, including Naufer Moulavi, Sajid Moulavi, Hayathu Mohammadu Ahammadu Milhan, Mohamed Ibrahim Sadiq Abdul Haq, Adam Lebbe alias Gafoor, Mohammad Samsuddin, and Mohammad Rizwan.
The accused have been charged with conspiracy, preparation, aiding and abetting, the collection of explosives and weapons, and murder and attempted murder, under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act, No. 48 of 1979 as amended, in connection with eight suicide attacks on several churches and hotels that took place on 21 April 2019.
The AG’s Department has already filed two separate cases against former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Pujith Jayasundara, over the charges of criminal negligence of duties and failure to prevent the Easter Sunday terror attacks. The Colombo High Court on 1 October served charges on Fernando and Jayasundara.
On 21 April 2019, Easter Sunday, three churches (St. Sebastian’s Church in Katuwapitiya, St. Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade, and Zion Church in Batticaloa) and three luxury hotels in Colombo (Cinnamon Grand Colombo, The Kingsbury Colombo, and Shangri-La Colombo) were targeted in a series of co-ordinated suicide bombings. Later that day, another two bomb explosions took place at a house in Dematagoda and the Tropical Inn Lodge in Dehiwala. A total of 269 people excluding the bombers were killed in the bombings, including about 45 foreign nationals, while at least 500 were injured. All eight of the suicide bombers in the attacks were Sri Lankan citizens associated with the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) organisation founded by the suicide bomber at Shangri-La Colombo, Mohamed Cassim Mohamed Zaharan alias Zaharan Hashim.