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Thursday July 18th, 2024

Sri Lanka Catholic church head doubtful Easter victims will find justice under present admin

Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith

ECONOMYNEXT – The head of Sri Lanka’s Catholic church, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, has expressed doubt that justice will be done for the victims of the 2019 Easter bombings under the present administration.

Anyone who comes to power through the blood of innocents will earn God’s wrath and will not enjoy that power for long, Cardinal Ranjjith said at a commemoration event on Thursday (21) marking 30 months since the 2019 Easter bombings.

“The rule of has been brought to ridicule today.

“When friends are accused, they are acquitted. Opponents are punished even where no wrong has been done. In this context, it is clear we will not be able to get the recommendations of the [presidential commission of inquiry on the attack] implemented in the present administrative structure,” he said.

The cardinal, who has been increasingly and scathingly critical of what he claims is the slow pace of government probe into the bombings, once again demanded to know what was happening with the investigations that were promised by the government that came to power in the months that followed the attack.

“If one is innocent, why not allow the freedom to probe it? Why not empower the officials? Why the attempt to brush this under the carpet?” he said.

“One might do this only if they are guilty, if they realise that their nakedness will be exposed.

“The guilty tries to pin the blame on others and hide away,” the archbishop said.

“Those who shed the blood of innocents will never know peace. That must be remembered,” he added.

The archbishop has repeatedly expressed his frustration over the pace of the investigations and an alleged inability to find the masterminds of the attack, which he has implied on several occasions was the result of a “grand conspiracy” – a claim originally attributed to former Attorney General Dappula de Livera.

Related: Sri Lanka Attorney General claims “grand conspiracy” behind Easter attack

The Easter bombings were carried out by a small band of suspected Islamist terrorists, though opposition parties in Sri Lanka, some members of the Catholic community and others have expressed scepticism over the official narrative.

In August this year, Ranjith also questioned claims that the terrorists had been backed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Related: Head of Sri Lanka Catholic church alleges attempt to pin Easter attack on ISIS

In July, Ranjith said he was sceptical of what he called a politically compromised law enforcement’s ability to probe the “grand conspiracy” behind the bombings.

Related: Sri Lanka Easter attack probe: Cardinal sceptical of politically compromised law enforcement

On Monday (18), the cardinal claimed that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had told him that he could not implement certain “unpopular” recommendations made by a presidential commission of inquiry (PCoI) on the 2019 Easter bombings.

Related: Sri Lanka Easter attack probe: Prez said he couldn’t implement some recommendations, claims cardinal

“… two days after the [PCoI] report was handed over, [the president] called me, and he asked me ‘how I cannot do all this, because there are some provisions in the report that if I implement, I will become unpopular’ (sp),” the cardinal claimed on Monday.

“The government has not implemented most of the recommendations of this report. The report has been a waste of time and a waste of hope to all of us,” he said, calling for international assistance in uncovering the truth.

The recommendations made by the PCoI included criminal proceedings to be instituted against former President Maithripala Sirisena and others. The report also identified a number of Islamist groups accused of causing or supporting “racial and religious disturbances” and the Sinhalese Buddhist organisation known as the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) which the report said had “contributed to the events”.

Related: Sri Lanka Easter attacks commission recommends criminal proceedings against President Sirisena

The cardinal said that, in the run-up to the November 2019 presidential polls, Rajapaksa assured the public that the Easter attack – which had killed 269 people and injured over 500 – would be probed as soon as he came to power.

Speaking at the commemoration ceremony on Thursday, held at the St Anthony’s Church in Kochcikade – one of the bomb sites – Ranjith said: “A majority of 269 victims lost their lives in churches. Those who came to the house of God to thank Jesus for his sacrifice were shred to pieces and hung on the beams of this roof. Their blood was everywhere in these holy grounds.”

“If anyone attempted to come to power through the blood of innocents, God’s wrath (udahasa) would be upon them and they will never be able to enjoy that power. They must remember that,” he said.

Invoking divine intervention, the cardinal said the country has been cursed possibly as a result of the Easter tragedy, referring to an “a disastrous situation in the country like nothing ever seen before”.

“If they are not guilty, they must allow these investigations to take place independently. If they’re not linked to these, action must be taken against those the PCoI have named as guilty, without fear. They must be brought before the law.

“The question arises to all of us, are they being protected because [those who promised investigations] are party to the wrongdoing?” he added.

Cardinal Ranjith said he would pray to God to reveal the truth and mete out justice to the victims.

“We pray to St Anthony to expose every force behind the attack. Please perform that miracle for us,” he said. (Colombo/Oct21/2021)

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Sri Lanka to conduct threat assessments for presidential candidates

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has submitted a cabinet paper proposing security measures for presidential candidates and former presidents, following the recent attack on former US President Donald Trump during a campaign rally in the USA.

“This proposal suggests the appointment of a committee to conduct threat assessments and provide necessary security for Presidential candidates as well as former Presidents,” a statement from his media division said.

The committee will include the Secretary of the Ministry of Public Security as Chair, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Inspector General of Police, the Chief of National Intelligence, and the Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police/Elections.

A Deputy Inspector General of Police will be appointed to oversee all security arrangements.

The committee and the designated officer will work closely with the Election Commission to ensure seamless coordination of security arrangements, the PMD said.

After today, July 17, Sri Lanka’s Election Committee is empowered to announce a date for the presidential polls due to be held this year.

Minister of Foreign Affairs M U M Ali Sabry has said the election will be held on October 5 or 12.

Members of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) have said that the government should be accountable for the security of Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, the SJB’s presidential candidate. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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Sri Lanka rupee closes flat at 303.80/304.00 to US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed almost flat at 303.80/304.00 to the US dollar on Wednesday, from 303.70/304.00 to the US dollar on Tuesday, dealers said, while bond yields were down.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed at 10.60/75 percent, down from 10.82/92 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2027 closed at 11.60/38 percent, down from 11.65/75 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2028 closed at 11.72/78 percent, down from 11.80/90 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2029 closed at 12.05/10 percent, down from 12.05/20 percent. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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Sri Lanka stocks close down, John Keells, Hemas, Hayleys push turnover

ECONOMYNEXT – The Colombo Stock Exchange closed down on Wednesday, data on its site showed.

The broader All Share Index closed down 0.41 percent, or 48.44 points, at 11,830; while the more liquid S&P SL20 Index closed down 0.52 percent, or 17.91 points, at 3,456.

Turnover was 1.2 million. A big part of this (Rs597mn) came from John Keells Holdings Plc (down at 194.25).

“There was foreign buying interest on John Keells and Hemas,” Softlogic Stockbrokers said.

“We saw foreign interest in selective counters persist.”

Hemas Holdings Plc contributed Rs143mn to the turnover, and the share closed down at 81.10.

Hayleys Plc contributed Rs156mn to the turnover, and the share closed up at 101.50.

The three crossings made up 67 percent of the turnover.

The capital goods counters, with all the bluechips, was the leading sector contributing to the day’s turnover.

With the exception of Hayleys and a couple of other companies, the counter saw most stocks close down or flat.

Sentiment around the banking counters also remained negative.

“The volatility in investor sentiments persisted. There are a lot of spectators in the market over the last few weeks, despite some positive news coming in.”

Treasury bill and bond rates have also dropped.

The top contributors to the ASPI were Melstacorp Plc (up at 86.00), SMB Finance Plc (up at 0.70), and TeeJay Lanka Plc (up at 40.00).

There was a net foreign inflow of 392 million. (Colombo/Jul17/2024)

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