Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Security personnel stand guard in front of St Anthony's Shrine, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on April 29, 2019.

Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

Sri Lankan police on Tuesday arrested the country’s police chief, currently on compulsory leave, and its former defence secretary for alleged negligence leading to the Easter Sunday bombings that killed more than 250 people at churches and hotels.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said former defence secretary Hemasiri Fernando and Police Chief Pujith Jayasundara were arrested at hospitals where they had been admitted. They remain in the hospitals under police custody, he said.

The arrests came a day after prosecutors asked police to explain why they had not arrested the two former senior officials despite being instructed to do so.

Story continues below advertisement

The attorney-general’s department said in a letter to acting police chief C.D. Wickremaratne on Monday that it had ordered Mr. Fernando and Chief Jayasundara to be named as suspects and produced before a court because a presidential commission of inquiry found grounds to charge them with dereliction of duties and criminal negligence.

The letter said crimes the officials are suspected of having committed fall within “grave crimes against humanity” under international law.

Police had reportedly sought to question Mr. Fernando and Chief Jayasundara but did not because they had been admitted to hospitals.

Mr. Fernando resigned after the blasts and Chief Jayasundara was sent on compulsory leave.

Since the April 21 suicide attacks, the government has acknowledged it received intelligence reports about the plot beforehand but failed to act on them.

Both Mr. Fernando and Chief Jayasundara appeared before a parliamentary committee inquiring into the blasts and described the security failures. President Maithripala Sirisena, however, opposed the parliamentary committee conducting a separate inquiry while court cases were being heard on the blasts.

Mr. Fernando told the committee that Mr. Sirisena wasn’t easily accessible for discussions. Chief Jayasundara said Mr. Sirisena asked him after the blasts to resign to take responsibility and promised he would have his name cleared in any subsequent inquiry.

Story continues below advertisement

Chief Jayasundara also said Mr. Sirisena had asked him not to attend National Security Council meetings since last October, when Mr. Sirisena fired Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in a power struggle that triggered a seven-week political crisis. Mr. Wickremesinghe was subsequently reinstated by the Supreme Court.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies