ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers has decided to appoint a special parliamentary committee to look into the Channel 4 documentary claim that the current intelligence chief Suresh Sallay was complicit in the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings, Labour Minister Manusha Nanayakkara said.
Major General Sallay hatched the plot while working for the directorate of military intelligence with the objective of creating instability to clear the way for Rajapaksas to return to power, The Times newspaper said on Monday, based on the UK-based Channel 4 documentary.
“As a responsible government, yesterday the cabinet decided on this and there will be an announcement on a special parliamentary committee,” Nanayakkara told the parliament when the opposition questioned about the latest Channel 4 documentary.
“In addition to this, internationally, if any investigations are required, the cabinet discussed yesterday to go ahead with it. We will not hesitate to act on this.”
However, he said such videos by Channel 4 have been released in the past to make Sri Lanka’s human rights position at United Nations sessions worse.
“What is clear is that whenever the Geneva Human Rights Council is scheduled to meet, videos like this are brought in, continuously,” he said.
“We have to analyse the evidence presented in this video. We won’t hesitate to act on it or discuss it.”
Analysts have said the carnage clearly favoured Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s election in November. Rajapaksa expressed his willingness to contest in the presidency within five days of the Easter bombing.
Sallay was promoted as head of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) no sooner Gotabaya Rajapaksa came to power in November 2019. He was given a one-year service extension by President Ranil Wickremesinghe recently.
Islamic extremists set off suicide bombings at two Catholic churches, a Christian church and three luxury hotels. The attacks were later claimed by the Islamic State group.
In the Channel 4 video, a whistle blower who has already left the country identified as Azad Maulana, a former top aide of current minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan, had spoken of Sallay planning the attacks for about three years.
There was no immediate official response from Sallay or the SIS.
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 has already been reported to courts. However, this is the first time Sallay is directly accused of plotting the attacks.
Sri Lanka’s weekly newspaper, The Sunday Times said, in a letter to Channel 4, Sallay called the allegations “outright false” and denied any contact with the individuals who spoke to the film-makers.
“He said he was not in Sri Lanka on the dates the alleged contact with the bombers was made.” (COLOMBO, Sept 5/2023)