World

23,000 charges filed against suspects as trial in Sri Lanka attacks begins

November 24, 2021
A family member of a victim of the 2019 Easter Sunday bomb attacks reacts near a mass graveyard next to St. Sebastian's Church in Katuwapitiya, Sri Lanka. (File)
A family member of a victim of the 2019 Easter Sunday bomb attacks reacts near a mass graveyard next to St. Sebastian's Church in Katuwapitiya, Sri Lanka. (File)

COLOMBO — The bombings, which targeted three hotels and three churches. killed 267 people and injured about 500.

More than 23,000 charges have been filed against the suspects, and 1,215 witnesses have been called to testify.

However, the suspect's lawyers have questioned the plausibility of having this number of charges and witnesses, calling the trial "a futile exercise."

Some of the charges that the suspects have been charged with include conspiring to murder, aiding and abetting the attacks, and collecting arms and ammunition.

All eight of the suicide bombers who carried out the Easter Sunday attacks died in the blasts.

However, their associates and relatives stand accused of being involved in planning and masterminding the terrorist attacks, which are some of the most bloody in Sri Lanka's turbulent history.

They include the father of two of the suicide bombers, and another Sri Lankan national suspected of being affiliated with the Islamic State.

Lawyers involved in the case warned that the sheer multitude of the charges and staggering witness list could mean that the trial could drag on for years.

Defense attorney Noordeen Shaheed, who represents six of the accused, said it was "a futile exercise [as] it's not going to bring any results."

"23,000 charges have been framed against all the 25 suspects. It is very unusual and perhaps it is historical in so far as the history of Sri Lanka is concerned," he told Reuters TV.

The trial has also been marred by public criticism from families of the victims and from the minority Christian community, who accuse the government of dragging their feet in taking action against those suspected of being responsible for the bombings.

The string of attacks carried out on Easter Sunday on April 21, 2019, targeted three churches and three five-star hotels, killing a total of 267 people, including at least 45 foreign nationals.

The attacks also injured about 500 people, most of whom were from Sri Lanka's minority Christian community.


November 24, 2021
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