ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Catholic church is sceptical of a politically compromised law enforcement’s ability to probe the “grand conspiracy” behind the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings, Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith said.
There can be doubts about finding out what really happened with a “police that acts according to the wishes of the current political leadership, a criminal investigation department (CID) that follows the political leadership’s agenda, and a legal system and law enforcement personnel that political leaders are trying to control,” Ranjith said.
The cardinal was speaking at a press conference Tuesday (13) morning to announce the submission of an interim report compiled by seven bishops of the church on purported shortcomings of a report by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) that investigated the series of bombings.
“We urge the government not to brush [the investigation] under the carpet by taking a few people to court and acting as if it’s done and dusted,” he said, adding that there are “hidden mysteries” behind the attack that need to come to light.
Further investigations should be based on some of the contents in the PCoI report as well as certain revelations made by MPs in parliament, the cardinal said.
“The former Attorney General had said unequivocally that there was a grand conspiracy behind the attack. We have a right to know what that conspiracy was. Did he make his statement based on the contents of the commission report, or the contents of the 22 volumes that were hidden and submitted later because apparently they could not be released, we do not know,” he said.
Days before his retirement, outgoing Attorney General Dappula de Livera said on Ma 18 this year that there was clear evidence of a grand conspiracy linked to the April 21 2019 bombings that killed 269 people and injured over 500.
Twenty-two volumes of the PCoI report, purportedly containing sensitive information, were submitted to the Attorney General on March 12, this year, over a month after the ‘final’ PCoI report was handed over to the president.
The PCoI recommended that criminal proceedings be instituted against former President Maithripala Sirisena and others over the incident.
The government has been claiming for some months now that Maulavi (Islamic preacher) Mohamed Ibrahim Mohamed Naufer and one Rasheed Hajjul Akbar, both of whom are in custody, had been identified as the only confirmed masterminds of the attack. Public Security Minister Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara told reporters in May that no other suspect had been identified as having masterminded the attacks and stressed that the government has no intention to hide its findings.
The official account has been contested by opposition lawmakers and others. Main opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) MP Harin Fernando in a controversial statement made in parliament on April 20 claimed that the Islamic preacher was never brought before a presidential commission of inquiry that probed the Easter bombings.
Fernando also claimed that an intelligence officer who had been arrested in connection with the bombings was transferred to the custody of military intelligence before a statement could be recorded. Investigations by former Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Director Shani Abeysekara had revealed that the suspect had had discussions with the perpetrators of the attack, Fernando said.
“If the government or any institute thinks that our people will be satisfied by having 20, 30 cases in court instead of [an adequate investigation], they’re just fooling themselves,” said Ranjith.
“We will not end our struggle here, just because some cases have been filed. We will continue,” he added. (Colombo/July13/2021)