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Sri Lanka arrests Bathiudeen brothers over Easter Sunday attacks

MP Rishad Bathiudeen

Former Sri Lankan minister and leader of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) Rishad Bathiudeen MP and his brother Riyaz Bathiudeen were arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department early this morning, in connection to the Easter Sunday attacks in 2019.

"They were arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) based on circumstantial and scientific evidence that they had connections with the suicide bombers who carried out the attacks" stated Police spokesman Ajith Rohana.

Prior to the arrest, MP Bathiudeen had tweeted about his brother’s arrest and attempts to detain him.

Riyaz Bathiudeen was also arrested in April 2020 concerning links to the attacks, where Sri Lankan police media spokesperson Jaliya Senaratne stated that Riyaz had direct links with one of the hotel bombers and had met with him before the attacks.

Earlier this week, Cardinal Malcolm, head of Sri Lanka’s Roman Catholic Church, accused the Sri Lankan government of permitting investigations of the attacks to stall.

The previous Sri Lankan government has been accused of allowing the bombings to take place despite receiving information about the bombings prior to the incident.

Almost 200 people were arrested following the Easter Sunday bombings in 2019, however no-one has been charged with links to the attacks to this day. 16 Muslim men amongst those arrested were charged earlier this week with links to vandalism of Buddhist statues in Mawanella in December 2018, an event which the authorities have stated is the precursor for the Easter Sunday attacks the following year.

Last week, Sri Lanka banned 11 Muslim organisations, most of which are local religious and social organisations; with concerned persons facing up to 20 years in jail. The ban follows a similar wide-reach proscription of Tamil diaspora organisations and hundreds of individuals, whose personal information was publicised.

Further investigations of the Bathiudeen brothers are set to continue under the controversial PTA, which has been linked to torture and has been used to detain human rights activists and government dissidents.

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