Chief Inspector of Police in Akkaraipattu, Ampara, has been arrested under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) by officers from Colombo’s Crimes Division (CCD) over alleged ties to the Easter Sunday bombings, which killed over 250 people.
The attack in Sainthamaruthu
The CCD alleges that the Chief Inspector concealed evidence linked to an explosion at a residence in Sainthamaruthu, in a housing scheme called the “Bolivia Village”. This individual attack killed 15, including six children and three women.
Among those injured were the wife and daughter of Zahran Hashim, who led the now-banned National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ) which had masterminded the attacks. They have been subsequently treated for their injuries.
Use of the PTA
The PTA has been widely panned by human rights organisations due to its long history of enabling arbitrary arrests and torture. The Rajapaksa administration has since walked away from commitments made under the previous administration to repeal the legislation and to replace it with a law "in accordance with contemporary international best practices."
Human Rights Watch has raised concerns over the use of the bill to arbitrary arrest individual for alleged involvement in the attacks. Hejaaz Hizbullah, a prominent Muslim lawyer, was arrested on 14 April 2020, along with six others. Despite being detained under the PTA, a detention order was not served, and he has been denied confidential access to a lawyer.
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