Sri Lanka’s police Saturday arrested a top Muslim leader and member of parliament in connection with the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks that killed 279 people as pressure to speed up the investigation mounted.
The Criminal Investigations Department CID is said to have obtained a 72 hour detention order under the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).
However Sri Lanka Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana told reporters that the investigators are expected to obtain a 90 day detention order to further question MP Bathiudeen and his brother once the current 72 hour detention order ends. He said that the final decision of that will be taken by the official investigating the case.
Lawyers representing of Rishad Bathiudeen MP and Riyaj Bathiudeen Attorney at Law Rushdhie Habeeb says that Presidential Commission of inquiry on Easter Sunday Attacks found no evidence of Rishad or Reyaj aiding or abetting the suicide bombers.
We are instructed to state that if the CID had noticed the two of them, they would have appeared at the CID, as they had done many times in the past, both as party noticed as well as complainants. There was no need to have demonstrated, any show of force to the rest of the family or to those around.
We understand that no reasons for the arrest had been given at the time of their arrest by those who conducted the mid-night raid. We are shocked that those representing the democratic state should begin this process in violation of the law which requires the persons arrested to be informed of the reasons at the time of the arrest or to uphold the principle of the presumption of innocence.
The Easter Sunday Attacks Commission headed by a Honourable Judge of the present Supreme Court had gone into all the complaints and allegations made against the two of them. They had heard and recorded the evidence of the complainants, the investigators and several others. They had heard the two, who were accused of allegations of aiding and abetting a suicide bomber.
The Commissioners had heard in evidence and by affidavit that Hon Rishard Bathiudeen, in his then capacity as Minister had refused to grant an appointment to meet the Minister, to one of them who had sought the appointment, at a time when no one in the country knew that he would turn out to be a suicide bomber later on. They had also received the evidence that Minister Bathiudeen was sent a letter of demand by the future bomber claiming damages for refusing the appointment and for not granting the meeting he had requested.
Having evaluated the evidence, the Easter Commission found no evidence of any one of the Bathiudeens having aided or abetted the suicide bombers in the Easter Sunday bombings.
Their arrest without any justifiable material is in violation of the rule of law. We are instructed to state that the arrests are politically motivated. The ACMC supported the present opposition at the last Presidential and General Elections. The ACMC is today a part of the country’s opposition. The ACMC also represents a predominant share of the Muslim community. This is a racially revengeful process to punish the political leadership of the Muslims, which had nothing to do with 21/4, for the dastardly acts of some Muslim youths who were widely alleged, as having been used as pawns by foreign powers.”