Easter Sunday attacks: 311 suspects in custody

A suicide bomber of Easter attacks in Sri Lanka

Inspector General of Police C D Wickremaratne yesterday said a total of 311 suspects are currently in custody or under detention orders in connection with the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks.

Making a special statement over the progress of the investigations into the Easter Sunday attacks that claimed over 260 lives, the IGP said investigations were conducted into 100,000 phone conversations involving the suspects.

He said that assets valued over Rs.365 million belonging to the suspects have been confiscated so far.“The investigators have already arrested 723 suspects over the Easter Sunday attacks and 311 of them are still in custody,” he said

The IGP said that various factions are making baseless statements over the investigations into the Easter Sunday attacks as they do not have a proper understanding about the investigations being carried out by police investigators.

“It is my duty as the head of the Police Department to keep the relatives of victims, those who were injured by the Easter Sunday attacks and those who are interested in the investigations informed about the progress of the investigations,” he said.

He said the Police Department is unable to divulge full details of the investigations as they are being conducted confidentially. Moreover, the revelation of information with regard to investigations will hamper the legal process, he said.

Wickremaratne said that the series of suicide bomb attacks that took place on April 21, 2019 was well planned. There were a number of incidents that took place prior to the Easter Sunday attacks. The IGP detailed a number of such incidents including the attacks on Muslims who were against the ideology of Saharan Hashim at a mosque in Kattankudy in 2017, hurling a hand grenade at a political office in Kattankudy in 2018, Conducting a training camp at a Rest House in Nuwara Eliya in 2018, the killing of two policemen at a checkpoint at Vavunathivu and the sacrilege of Buddha statues.

Wickeramaratne said that these incidents had been investigated separately by respective police stations and no concerted effort was taken to investigate them in depth under the supervision of an agency specialized in such investigations.

He said the Police Department failed to uncover the interrelation between these incidents as the investigations into them were carried out separately and information over these incidents was not shared by the intelligence officials.

“There was no proper coordination between the sections in the Criminal Investigation Department that investigated the Easter Sunday attacks initially. No sections have carried out an in depth investigation into the attacks,” he pointed out.

He said that the CID officials who were conducting the investigations failed to carry out an in depth investigation as the investigations were initially conducted to uncover the suspects within a very short span of time and conclude the investigations.

They hurried to conclude the investigations by determining that many of those who were involved in the crime were dead and all those who aided and abetted the crime are in custody. The investigators were unable to uncover accurate information over the attacks as they conducted the investigations based on the pre conclusion that a group of persons who have organized voluntarily carried out these attacks.

These investigations were aimed to uphold the theory that Saharan Hashim is the leader of this outfit and his network faced a natural death with his death.

IGP Wickremaratne said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa entrusted him with the task of expediting the investigations into the Easter Sunday attacks and bringing all those involved in the carnage to book irrespective of their status in society.

“As a first step, all investigation agencies including the CID Terrorist Investigation Division were restructured and new officials were appointed with an objective of conducting a proper study on the investigations carried by the Department over the Easter Sunday attacks,” he said

He said that he gave specific instructions to the DIG in charge of Criminal investigations to look into the areas which have not received proper attentions of the investigators. “A mechanism was introduced to review the daily progress of the investigators, analyse and share their information and maintain a proper coordination with the legal and intelligence,” he said.

The IGP said that investigators who carried out the investigations initially analyzed telephone conversations of the suspects for a period of four months prior to the attacks.

(Source: Daily News – By Rakshana Sriyantha)