Top Muslim political leader arrested for allegedly aiding 2019 Sri Lanka Easter bombingsBlog
A prominent Muslim political leader in Sri Lanka and his brother were arrested over the weekend due to their suspected connection to the 2019 Easter Sunday suicide bombings of three churches and three hotels in Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa that killed over 269 people.
Rishad Bathiudeen, a former cabinet minister and the leader of an opposition party in Parliament, and his brother, Reyaj Bathiudeen, were arrested in pre-dawn raids due to circumstantial and "scientific" evidence connecting them to the attacks, according to a police spokesperson.
Police spokesperson Ajith Rohana said the brothers allegedly aided and abetted those “who committed the Easter Sunday carnage,” The Associated Press reports.
On April 23, Bathiudeen’s post on Facebook called the arrest unjust, saying his brother had already been arrested.
“The CID has been standing outside my house in Boudhaloka Mawatha since [1:30 a.m.] today attempting to arrest me without a charge,” the leader of the All Ceylon Makkal Congress Party wrote. “... I have been in Parliament, and have cooperated with all lawful authorities until now. This is unjust.”
Bathiudeen’s lawyer, Rushdhie Habeeb, called the arrests politically motivated and said there was no reason given.
Habeeb argued that the purpose of the arrest was to “punish the political leadership of the Muslims, which had nothing to do with 21/4, for the dastardly acts of some Muslim youths who were widely alleged as having been used as pawns by foreign powers,” he said in a statement.
No one has been charged with the suicide bombings, though nearly 200 people were arrested in the days following the bombings by Islamic extremists, according to Agence France Presse.
The arrests came three days after Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the head of Sri Lanka’s Roman Catholic Church, accused the government of allowing investigations of the attack to be stalled.