Colombo, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court on Thursday found the country’s former President Maithripala Sirisena and four other senior government officials responsible for failing to prevent the 2019 Easter bombings that killed at least 290 people and injured hundreds.
A seven-judge bench ruled Sirisena was negligent because he failed to prevent the tragedy despite being in possession of credible intelligence warning of the attacks.
The court ordered Sirisena to pay $273,300 from his personal funds to family members of the victims. The other officials were ordered to pay a total of $574,000. The court also ordered that a victims’ fund be established at the Office of Reparation to “investigate the alleged underpayment or nonpayment” of compensation.
It also directed the government to “take appropriate disciplinary action” against former State Intelligence Service Chief Nilantha Jayawardena for his “lapses and failures.”
The verdict comes more than three years after a series of bombs ripped through churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. Several of those bombs exploded inside churches during Easter services in three cities. Christians in Sri Lanka account for less than 10% of the country’s population.
Shortly after the attacks, the Sri Lankan government admitted it had failed to act on multiple warnings from intelligence agencies, including from India and the United States.
In the days following the attacks, Sri Lankan intelligence services said they believed the bombers had clear links to ISIS.
The trial of 25 men accused of plotting the bombings was adjourned last year with the court yet to reach a verdict.