Last Updated on 23/01/2022
COLOMBO: Sri Lankan police have arrested a key Muslim lawmaker in the country following pressure to step up an investigation into attacks on churches on Easter in 2019.
According to a report in the Dawn newspaper, a police spokesman said detectives arrested Rashid Badieuddin, head of the All Saloon Mukul Party (ACMP) and a former minister, under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
Rashid Badiuddin and his brother were arrested last night during raids on their home in Colombo, he said.
According to a police spokesman, “they were arrested under the PTA on the basis of factual and scientific evidence that their attackers had links to suicide bombers.”
A lawyer representing the detainees said the presidential inquiry had found no evidence linking the attackers to them, adding that the arrest was political revenge.
Lawyer Rushdie Habib said in a statement that the arrest was made for “political purposes” which highlights how the ACMP opposed President Gotapaya Raja Paksa in the 2019 elections.
Earlier, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, head of Sri Lanka’s Roman Catholic Church, accused the government of blocking the investigation, which came three days after the arrests.
About 200 people were arrested in the days following the 2019 suicide bombings of hotels and churches, but no one was charged.
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, who presided over a memorial service on the second anniversary of the Easter attacks, said he was “deeply saddened” by the lack of progress.
He reiterated his call for immediate action against the culprits, saying “the need to preserve the political position and unity is an obstacle to the investigation.”
It should be noted that Rashid Badiuddin’s party is part of the opposition coalition, but three of his lawmakers opposed the government in October to amend the constitution and give the president greater powers over the judiciary and parliament.