Rishad Bathiudeen arrested under PTA for alleged links with suicide bombers
Sri Lanka police on Saturday arrested All Ceylon Makkal Congress leader and opposition parliamentarian Rishad Bathiudeen in connection with the April 2019 Easter Sunday attacks.
In a pre-dawn raid, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) took Mr. Bathiudeen into custody under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) that rights groups term “draconian” and want repealed. His brother Riyaaj Bathiudeen – who was arrested in April 2020 and released months later due to “lack of evidence” – was arrested again.
“They were arrested under the PTA based on circumstantial and scientific evidence that they had connections with the suicide bombers who carried out the attacks,” police spokesman Ajith Rohana said in a statement.
On April 21, Sri Lanka marked the second anniversary of the ghastly Easter Sunday terror bombings, carried out by a network of suicide bombers from an IS-inspired local radical Islamist group. A total of 279 people died, and several hundreds were seriously injured in the serial blasts carried out at luxury hotels and churches in capital Colombo, and in the eastern city of Batticaloa.
The arrest of the Bathiudeen brothers comes amid growing calls, from the Catholic church and political opposition, for the government to expedite and complete the probe into the incident, a poll pledge of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
In a Facebook video just ahead of his arrest, MP Mr. Bathiudeen said he was innocent, and his arrest was ‘politically motivated”. “It is part of the repression of the Muslim community of this country, this arrest is a big conspiracy to silence our community…they did not even inform the Speaker about the arrest of a parliamentarian, of the leader of a democratic political party,” he said.
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