20 July 2023, The Tablet

Compensation payments deferred for Easter bombing victims

Former President Maithripala Sirisena was ordered to pay 100 million Sri Lankan rupees for his negligence in preventing the 2019 terror attacks.

Compensation payments deferred for Easter bombing victims

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith speaking in January this year, when the Sri Lankan Supreme Court ordered the compensation payments.
Associated Press / Alamy

Ahead of a 12 July deadline set by Sri Lanka's Supreme Court, former President Maithripala Sirisena paid an instalment of 15 million Sri Lankan rupees (£36,000) as compensation to the victims of the Easter terror attacks in 2019, which killed over 270 people and injured more than 500 others.

His lawyers filed an application requesting that he be allowed to pay the remaining sum – 85 million rupees – in 10 instalments over the next 10 years.

In a ruling in January, the court ordered the 71-year-old to pay 100 million Sri Lankan rupees (£239,000) for his negligence in preventing one of the country's worst terror attacks, despite receiving credible information of an imminent attack.

The verdict resulted from 12 petitions filed by the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, victims’ families, and Catholic clergy. 

Along with Sirisena, four former security service chiefs were ordered to pay compensation failing to adopt preventive measures. Three have also provided only first instalments since the ruling. 

Fr Rohan Silva, chairman of the Centre for Society and Religion, said that they are all bound to pay the full amount this month.

The suicide bomb attacks on 21 April four years ago hit three churches, four hotels and a residential complex. The churches included the Catholic Shrine of St Anthony and St Sebastian’s Church.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo hailed the Supreme Court’s ruling in January as a major breakthrough after nearly four years of deadlock, but he still believes the truth about the attack has not yet been fully uncovered.

He has repeatedly raised the issue in Sri Lanka and also at global forums, including the Vatican and the UN Human Rights Council, alleging the incident was “not purely a work of extremists, but a grand political plot”. He has demanded criminal prosecution of Sirisena.

The cardinal has been a persistent critic of government corruption.

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