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Sri Lanka arrests police chief and former defence secretary for ‘crimes against humanity’

Sri Lankan police arrested the country’s police chief and its former defence minister on Tuesday, for alleged negligence over the Easter Sunday bomb attacks that killed over 250 people.

The arrests of police chief Pujith Jayasundara and former defence secretary Hemasiri Fernando, comes after Sri Lanka’s Attorney General de Livera accused the two of committing a “grave crime against humanity” for failing to prevent the attacks. Both men were reportedly receiving medical treatment at state-run hospitals at the time of their arrests. 

"There is sufficient information to prove negligence of official duties ... and criminal negligence. It is also considered a grave crime against humanity under international law," Livera had said. Nine other senior officers will also be prosecuted over the security lapses, he added.

Fernando and Jayasundara had previously appeared before a parliamentary committee on the Easter Sunday attacks, with Fernando stating Sri Lanka’s president had given him instructions not to allow the prime minister to attend security council meetings. Jayasundara meanwhile said that the president Maithripala Sirisena asked him to take responsibility for the lapse leading to the attacks and promised him a diplomatic posting in return.

See more from the Guardian here, Reuters here and Al Jazeera here.