Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

Nearly 270 people, including 45 foreigners, were killed in 2019 in the series of bombings targeting hotels and churches.

The trial of 25 men accused of planning the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka that killed nearly 270 people, including at least 45 foreign nationals, has been postponed until March to allow time for the charges to be translated.

The accused are facing more than 23,000 charges, including conspiracy to murder, collecting weapons and ammunition, as well as providing assistance. the attacks – the worst in the history of the South Asian island nation.

Last November, a Sri Lankan court began the first of three hearings related to the bombings that targeted three hotels and three churches in 2019. The series of devastating bombings also injured about 500 people, mostly belonging to the island nation’s Christian minority community.

Minelle Fernandez of Al Jazeera, who reported from the capital, Colombo, said the trial would continue after the charges were translated into the Tamil language, speaking the majority of the suspects.

She added that the trial was also postponed to allow time for some of the suspects who could not afford to get lawyers in November to obtain legal representation.

“Sri Lanka’s Bar Association is offering assistance in appointing lawyers to assist with legal representation to suspects,” she said.

She added: “It’s a bit of a household at this stage. These things must be done before the case can proceed. “

Officials charged

Former national police chief Pujith Jayasundara is charged in the case with failing to respond to repeated intelligence warnings of a possible “terrorist” attack.

Former Defense Minister Hemasiri Fernando, then the top official in the Ministry of Defense, faces similar charges of misconduct by failing to prevent the attacks, despite having received intelligence in advance.

However, the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka has challenged the government’s investigations say the truth of who was really behind the attacks is being hidden.

Colombo’s Roman Catholic archdiocese, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, said he believed the real conspirators were still at large and accused the authorities of trying to protect the masterminds.

Referring to speeches in parliament by lawmakers, Ranjith said intelligence personnel also allegedly released a suspect from police custody.

The government defended its investigations into the attacks.

Dozens of other people have been detained in connection with bombings, but they have not yet been charged.

Two local Muslim groups that allegedly pledged allegiance to the ISIL (ISIS) group were blamed for the attacks. Earlier this year, Sri Lanka banned 11 organizations, including ISIL and al-Qaeda.

Anyone linked to the groups – including the other nine local religious and social organizations – could face up to 20 years in prison, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said in a newspaper announcement last April.

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