ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s leader of the Catholic Church, Cardinal Malcom Ranjith has called on President Ranil Wickremesinghe for an independent, international investigation into an alleged plot in the Easter Sunday attack and to suspend top police officials who have been found to have neglected their duty.
The Cardinal’s new requests come after the British-based Channel 4 documentary revealed with whistle blowers’ allegations that the Easter Sunday attack on April 21, 2019, was a plot involving the current intelligence chief Suresh Sallay.
In the Channel 4 video, a whistle blower who has already left the country identified as Azad Maulana, a former top aide of current state minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan, had spoken of Sallay planning the attacks for about three years to help former leader Gotabaya Rajapaksa come into power.
Riding on a national security threat campaign, Rajapaksa won the presidential poll in November 2019 overwhelmingly. However, he failed to probe into the Easter Sunday attack mastermind as promised during his presidential campaign.
In the video Maulana and another anonymous source say military intelligence had direct contacts with the suicide bombers, and Maulana stated that he arranged a meeting between the current intelligence chief Suresh Sallay and suicide bombers in 2018.
Cardinal Malcom Ranjith, who also backed Rajapaksa in the 2019 poll, has been demanding the truth behind the attack and justice for the victims. At least 269 people including over 40 foreigners were killed in a series of suicide bombings by Islamist extremists targeting three luxury hotels and three churches during Easter Sunday services.
The Cardinal requested to hold a “free, impartial, just, transparent and broad based investigation into what the Channel 4 Television Network revealed in its programme, the alleged plot behind that tragedy and all facts and a study of the persons mentioned in that programme especially with regard to their role in this mass murder”.
“(The) investigations should be carried out on the findings outlined in the various commission reports already presented and recommendations stated there need to be implemented fully,” Cardinal said in a statement late on Wednesday.
“This investigation should take place through an independent international investigation team. That international team should be assisted by all those Sri Lankan officials of the CID (Criminal Investigation Department) whose services were originally sought by the government and who were also transferred away from the investigations to other areas and the posts by biased political authorities.”
Rajapaksa transferred key police officials who spearheaded the Easter Sunday attack after he became president.
Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court ordered former President Maithripala Sirisena, four other officials including then intelligence chief Nilantha Jayawardena to pay compensation totalling 310 million rupees to victims of the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings.
The Cardinal in his statement urged Jayawardena, who was fined by the court and another senior officer Deshabandu Tennakoon, who was named for professional negligence in a presidential commission report to be suspended from the service until the new inquiry is over.
Sri Lankan authorities failed to act on warnings issued by an intelligence agency in neighbouring India 17 days before the coordinated suicide bombings, according to several investigations into the attacks.
Accusations of the involvement of Sri Lankan intelligence operatives have already been reported to courts. However, this is the first time Sallay is directly accused of plotting the attacks. (Colombo/September 07/2023)