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Sri Lanka Police Chief, Former Defense Minister Arrested for Negligence in Easter Bombings

A Sri Lankan naval soldier stands guard at a road leading to a closed market on May Day in Colombo, Sri Lanka, May 1, 2019.

Sri Lankan police arrested the nation’s police chief and former defense minister, following calls from the state’s prosecutor to try the men for negligence in connection with the Easter Sunday bombings that left 258 people dead.

Police Spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara announced Tuesday that former Defense Minister Hemasiri Fernando and police chief Pujith Jayasundara were arrested while receiving medical care in hospitals.

Sri Lanka’s attorney general Dappula de Livera had called for the officials to be charged with “grave crimes against humanity,” for their failure to act on information from Indian Intelligence prior to the deadly Easter Sunday blasts. The Sri Lankan government has admitted to failing to act on intelligence that it received on Aril 4, more than two weeks prior to the bombings.

Fernando and Jayasundara deny any wrongdong.

In testimony to a parliamentary committee, the two officials accused Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena of misconduct as well.

Fernando, who resigned as defense minister following the attacks, told the committee that Sirisena had ordered him to keep Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe out of security council meetings.

Jayasundara, who refused to step down from his position, asserted that Sirisena had asked him to take the blame for the blasts, in exchange for a diplomatic job.

Jayasundara was put on compulsory leave, with his deputy assuming his responsibilities.

Sirisena has said that he will not accept the conclusions of the parliamentary committee and has instead opened his own inquiry.