Charges for 30 Easter Sunday attackers | Daily News

Charges for 30 Easter Sunday attackers

AG awaiting Presidential Commission Report
Detention Orders for 253 suspects

All eight files of the Easter Sunday attacks have been forwarded to the Attorney General and charges have been filed against 30 persons on charges of conspiring to commit murder, said Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Dr. Sarath Weerasekara.

He said the Attorney General is now awaiting the report of the Presidential Commission which he will analyse before taking further action. “So far, we have detained 253 suspects on Detention Orders and they are in remand custody for further investigations,” he said.

He said that Intelligence Units were the backbone of a country’s national security. It was because the previous Government destabilised Intelligence Units that the Easter Sunday attacks happened.

“The first thing that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa did after assuming office was to ensure that the Intelligence Units were strengthened. We are confident that the chances of another Easter Sunday attack are near impossible,” Minister Weerasekara said, addressing the Colombo District Conference of the Public Security Committee Pilot Project. This was created with the aim of creating a society free from fear and suspicion.

He pointed out that it is also the responsibility of the public security committees to eliminate extremism and terrorism and to prevent attacks such as the Easter attack. Also, public assistance should be obtained through the Public Security Committee.

“The 119 and 118 hotlines will be strengthened. Facilities including new vehicles will be provided to 48 police divisions to obtain information from the public regarding drugs, robbery, rape, child abuse and other crimes,” he added.

He noted that discipline must be inculcated in the youth to create a sense of responsibility towards the country and to deter them from getting involved in crime.

Despite being criticized for proposing military training, a proposal in this regard would be tabled before Parliament shortly, said Minister Weerasekera.

He noted that, “We need to change the attitudes of the people. Social values are not even taught in schools. The reason that I proposed military training for youth is to inculcate discipline in them. When I proposed military training I did not mean military training in that sense, but what I meant was that discipline training is only available in military camps. After that, a lot of people criticized me. What I wanted by suggesting military training was to teach youth what the law is, what happens when the law is broken, leadership, personality, what happens when you take drugs and how to build entrepreneurship, to create a sense of belonging to the country which will lead to its protection.”

He said the President established the Public Security Ministry and appointed him as Cabinet Minister to fulfill a certain aspiration. That was to ensure that all citizens could live peacefully without fear. In order to create a society free from fear and suspicion, there can be no extortionists, underworld gangsters, rapists, child molesters, robbers or drug traffickers, the Minister said.

“This is no easy task but, I am able to carry it out because of eminent police officers and Civil Security personnel assigned to me. There is a very good team led by the IGP and senior DIGs. But, this task would be easier if we receive assistance from the villagers. If villagers are appointed to these security committees, the task becomes easier for police as they know their villages better than outsiders. Currently there are community police units in the police. The main task of these public security committees is to monitor what is happening in their villages and notify the police and assist in preventing crimes.”

For example, he said if drug trafficking is taking place in the village, the villagers can inform the police. “There is an allegation from the public that when a complaint is made regarding drug traffickers, the details of the complainant are notified to traffickers. But that will not happen from today. We have set up a separate unit in the Ministry to investigate such activities of police officers.”

The Minister vowed to take stern action against police officers who engage in misconduct. “Some people think it is useless to go to the police. That situation has arisen due to the lack of communication. These public safety committees reduce such communication issues. When a crime is committed, the perpetrator must be caught. Our responsibility is to prevent crime. There are several ways to prevent crime. One is to instill fear and shame in people. When there is shame and fear of making mistakes, such mistakes are reduced. Similarly, there should be a mechanism to apprehend criminals as soon as a crime is committed. Then criminals know they will be easily trapped. A perpetrator will think twice before committing a crime. This will enable the whole society to know the criminal’s profile when a crime is committed. But this has been criticized by some,” he said, adding that he had sought a court ruling on this issue and hopes to publish photos of perpetrators after the court ruling.

Minister Weerasekara said that prosecution should be instituted as soon as a crime is committed. If not, criminals will escape using loopholes in the law. “For example, it takes around 25 years for a case of a child who was molested at the age of 15, to finish. By this time the child’s whole youth would be destroyed. Hence, if these public security committees could prevent such crimes and prevent them, we stand a better chance of reducing such crimes.”

Similarly, we also hope to reduce drugs. One of the three main ways is to physically prevent drugs from entering the country. We need to reduce the demand for drugs. Third, drug offenders should be sent to rehabilitation and vocational training without being imprisoned.”

He noted that the President is working to develop the village through the ‘Dialog with the village’ programme and his task was to create the environment necessary for villagers to live without fear or suspicion.