Trial-at-Bar to hear main Easter attacks case

  • CJ appoints 3 HC judges as per AG’s request
  • 25 accused including ‘mastermind’ Naufer Moulavi

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya PC yesterday (1) appointed a Special Trial-At-Bar at the request of the Attorney General (AG) to hear 23,270 indictments against 25 accused parties, including Mohamed Ibrahim Mohamed Naufer, alias Naufer Moulavi, in connection with the Easter Sunday terror attacks of 21 April 2019.

Moulavi was singled out by Minister of Public Security Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera as the “mastermind” of the terror attacks – 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 will be chaired by High Court (HC) Judge Damith Thotawatte and include High Court judges Amal Ranaraja and Navaratne Marasinghe.

The AG had filed indictments in the High Court against 25 suspects, including Moulavi, Sajid Moulavi, Hayathu Mohammadu Ahammadu Milhan, Mohamed Ibrahim Sadiq Abdul Haq, Adam Lebbe (alias Ghafoor), Mohammad Samsudeen, and Mohammad Rizwan.

The suspects have been charged with conspiracy, preparation, aiding and abetting, collection of explosives and weapons, and murder and attempted murder under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act No. 48 of 1979, in connection with eight suicide attacks on several churches and hotels 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, The Kingsbury, and Shangri-La Hotel) were targeted in a series of co-ordinated Islamist terrorist suicide bombings. Later that day, another two bomb explosions took place at a house in Dematagoda and Tropical Inn Lodge in Dehiwala.

A total of 269 people excluding the bombers were killed in the bombings, including at least 45 foreign nationals, while at least 500 people were injured. All eight of the suicide bombers were Sri Lankan citizens associated with the National Thowheed Jama’ath (NTJ) organisation founded by the suicide bomber at Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo, Mohamed Cassim Mohamed Zaharan, alias Zaharan Hashim.