Easter attacks Trial-At-Bar to begin 24 October

  • The 25 accused issued notice 

BY Buddhika Samaraweera 

The Special Trial-At-Bar appointed by Chief Justice President’s Counsel (PC) Jayantha Jayasuriya at the request of Attorney General (AG) Sanjay Rajaratnam PC to hear 23,270 indictments against 25 suspects who are allegedly connected to the Easter Sunday terror attacks of 21 April 2019, yesterday (13) issued summons to the said 25 accused to appear before the Trial-At-Bar on 24 October 2021.

The Trial-At-Bar had ordered that summons be issued to the accused through the Superintendent of Prisons and also directed the Superintendent of Prisons to produce them in court on 4 October, as the accused are currently remanded in connection with the Easter Sunday terror attacks.

The 25 accused include Mohamed Ibrahim Mohamed Naufer alias Naufer Moulavi, who was singled out by Minister of Public Security Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera as the “mastermind” of the terror attacks in April – a charge he has subsequently reiterated. Weerasekera also stated in Parliament in May that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has also identified Moulavi as the mastermind of the attacks.

The Trial-At-Bar was appointed on 1 September and is headed by High Court Judge Damith Thotawatte. The other two members of it are High Court Judges Amal Ranaraja and Navaratne Marasinghe.

The AG had filed indictments in the High Court against 25 accused, including Naufer Moulavi, Sajid Moulavi, Hayathu Mohammadu Ahammadu Milhan, Mohamed Ibrahim Sadiq Abdul Haq, Adam Lebbe alias Gafoor, Mohammad Samsuddin, and Mohammad Rizwan.

The accused have been charged with conspiracy, preparation, aiding and abetting, the collection of explosives and weapons, and murder and attempted murder, under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act in connection with eight suicide attacks on several churches that took place on 21 April 2019.

On 21 April 2019, Easter Sunday, three churches (St. Sebastian’s Church in Katuwapitiya, St. Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade, and Zion Church in Batticaloa) and three luxury hotels in Colombo (Cinnamon Grand Colombo, The Kingsbury Colombo, and Shangri-La Colombo) were targeted in a series of co-ordinated suicide bombings. Later that day, another two bomb explosions took place at a house in Dematagoda and the Tropical Inn Lodge in Dehiwala. A total of 269 people excluding the bombers were killed in the bombings, including about 45 foreign nationals, while at least 500 were injured. All eight of the suicide bombers in the attacks were Sri Lankan citizens associated with the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) organisation founded by the suicide bomber at Shangri-La Colombo, Mohamed Cassim Mohamed Zaharan alias Zaharan Hashim.