By Saman Indrajith
Colombo, February 19 (The Island): Former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and former Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Pujith Jayasundara were acquitted and released yesterday in a case against them for their failure to prevent the 2019 Easter Sunday terror attacks, despite having received warnings of the terror strikes.
The verdict was delivered by a three-judge Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar, comprising Namal Balalle, Aditya Patabendige, and Mohamed Irshadeen.
Fernando and Jayasundera had been indicted on 855 charges.
Announcing the order Judge Mohamed Irshadeen said the Attorney General should have thought twice before filing the case against the former Defence Secretary. Judge Aditya Patabendige said the evidence presented before them showed that Fernando had been in a helpless position in making decisions. Patabendige added that former head of the State Intelligence Service, Nilantha Jayawardena had neglected his responsibilities and Fernando’s arrest was questionable. Jayawardena had tried to place the blame for the attack on someone else, the Judge noted.
Judge Patabendige after releasing Jayasundara said that the AG had to be careful when pressing criminal charges against an individual and that the arrest of the two men were highly problematic. It was unacceptable to file cases against government servants alone when politicians were above them, the judge said.
The Court also said that the prosecution had produced a handful of witnesses before the court, when there were over 1,000 witnesses. However, the prosecution still failed to prove the charges against the accused.
Chairman of the Bench, High Court Judge Namal Balalle, thanked the AG’s Department and the staff of the Colombo High Court for assisting to conclude the case within four months
The Attorney General had filed 864 indictments under Sections 296 and 300 of the Penal Code, including attempted murder against the two former officials.