Hemasiri Fernando should be probed for major lapses: AG

Sri Lanka’s most senior defence official on Monday became the latest government figure to face possible criminal charges over “major lapses” linked to the Easter Sunday bombings that killed 258 people.

Hemasiri Fernando, who was Defence Secretary before the April 21 bombing of three churches and three hotels, should be investigated for his failure to prevent or minimise the attacks, Attorney General Dappula de Livera said.

The Attorney General said in a letter to Sri Lanka’s acting police chief that a presidential commission of inquiry had found “major lapses” by Mr. Fernando, who has since resigned from his top job.

While Mr. Fernando is the most senior defence official to face action, President Maithripala Sirisena also suspended police chief Pujith Jayasundara after he refused to step down over the handling of the attacks.

Mr. Jayasundara and Mr. Fernando have testified before a parliamentary inquiry and accused Mr. Sirisena of failing to follow established protocols in assessing threats to national security.

Nine officers

Last week, the Attorney General ordered investigations against nine police officers for failing to act on warnings ahead of the bombings, carried out by Islamic State-backed local jihadists.

All nine were senior officers in the districts where the attacks were carried out and have now been transferred from their posts pending disciplinary action and criminal investigations.

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