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Cardinal: Easter attackers “spritually forgiven” but plotters must be punished

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Roman Catholic Church is ready to “spiritually forgive” the plotters and the perpetrators of last year’s suicide bomb attacks on three churches and three hotels.

“But they must be brought to justice under the law,” the country’s leading Catholic Prelate Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith told reporters in Colombo yesterday.

The Cardinal who drew kudos for his peaceful response to the horrific attacks that left more than 260 dead and around 200 others with life-long injuries said the government has to take the responsibility to find out who planned the attacks and what their motive was.

“Otherwise more such attacks will be planned and executed in the future,” he said.

He added that he and other church leaders also want to know who knew of the attacks beforehand and why they were not informed in time.

“Otherwise we could have saved the lives of all these people,” he said.

A Parliamentary Select Committee that investigated the attacks found that the then Director of the State Intelligence Service, Nilantha Jayawardena, “bears the greatest responsibility” in the failure to prevent or mitigate the effects of the Easter Sunday attacks.

While Jayawardena was the pivotal figure, the CPSC also faulted the Secretary to the Ministry of Defense Hemasiri Fernando, IGP Pujith Jayasundera, Chief of National Intelligence Sisira Mendis and the Directorate of Military Intelligence.

The Committee confirmed that information had been received by Jayawardena on April 4, from what they called is a “friendly country.” We now know that the intelligence was shared by India which was monitoring the extremists. “But there were delays from his end to share it with the relevant intelligence and security personnel,” the report said.

The Chairman of the PSC Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri said that “since Churches were to be attacked if this information was shared with Church leaders, particularly the Cardinal (Malcolm Ranjith) we could have prevented the attacks or reduced the harm.”

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Both Jayasundera and the then Defense Secretary Fernando have been charged with negligence of duty and cases against them are before the court. They are currently out on bail.

The DIG Jayewardena routinely used to brief President Maithripala Sirisena on intelligence matters every day, the same committee was told.

Several ex-Members of Parliament including Palitha Range Bandara have said that President Sirisena would have been informed and as the then Commander and Chief of the Armed Forces and Minister of Law and Order he was primarily responsible and should be charged.

Jayewardena has not been charged.

Ranjith also said he is “very satisfied” with the progress being made by the current Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the attack as well as the CID investigation.

This is the third investigation into the attack commissioned by the present and previous government.

In the lead up to the anniversary a number of high-profile arrests have been carried out by the CID in their investigation.

The Cardinal also said that the families of those who were affected continue to receive assistance from funds that were collected after the attacks. He did not say how much was collected and what the disbursements were. (Colombo 17, April, 2020)