Sri Lanka's top police inspector and a former defense secretary have been arrested for failing to avert blasts that killed more than 250 people in April. Prosecutors accused the men of grave negligence.
Sri Lanka's former top police inspector, Pujith Jayasundara, and former Defense Secretary Hemasiri Fernando were arrested by police in the capital Colombo on Tuesday for failing to prevent the April 21 Easter Bombings that killed more than 250 people.
The two men had been ordered to appear in court on Monday, but both checked into separate hospitals in the capital citing poor health. Attorney General Dappula de Livera then ordered their arrest and demanded they appear in court to answer for charges of negligence.
'Grave crimes against humanity'
De Livera said the men's failure to act on information provided by Indian intelligence services on April 4 amounted to "grave crimes against humanity." The two men had previously accused President Maithripala Sirisena of negligence in his assessment of possible national security threats.
Sirisena has vehemently denied the accusation and ordered police not to cooperate with a parliamentary committee conducting an investigation into the events leading up to the bombings.
Attorney General de Livera has named nine other senior officers as suspects in the security lapse and has said they, too, will be prosecuted.
Failure to act on clear warnings
Sri Lankan authorities say that beyond Indian intelligence, local Muslim groups had also alerted police about the threat posed by Zahran Hashim, a radical cleric who was himself one of the bombers involved in the attacks.
The terror group "Islamic State" (IS) ultimately claimed responsibility for the attacks. In the bombings, local Islamist groups targeted Christians attending Easter Sunday Mass as well as tourists at a luxury hotel in the capital.
Defense Secretary Fernando resigned after the attacks and Police Inspector Jayasundara was put on leave. Their arrests came one day after prosecutors demanded to know why the men had not been arrested despite orders to do so.
Sri Lanka has been under a state of emergency since April 21.
js/amp (AFP, AP, dpa)