ECONOMYNEXT – Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa has called for an international investigation into Sri Lanka’s Easter Sunday bombings, while the government has also indicated its willingness to launch a fresh probe in the wake of a sensational documentary aired by the UK’s Channel 4.
Hours after the documentary was aired, Premadasa told parliament Tuesday September 05 morning that a domestic investigation into Sri Lanka’s Easter Sunday bombings will never uncover the attack’s masterminds, demanding that the government facilitate an international probe.
“This is shameful. A foreign investigation and foreign media outlet has asked our officials to find the masterminds of the Easter attack,” said Premadasa.
“I don’t mind that [Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the head of Sri Lanka’s Catholic church] asked to vote against me [at the 2019 presidential election]. If he said that, it was because of their disappointment. The catholic community feels that to this day,” he said.
The opposition leader expressed his scepticism of domestic probes into the Easter attacks, which killed 269 people and injured over 500.
“I don’t believe the masterminds can be found in a domestic investigation. This needs an international investigation,” his voice rising.
“I’d like to ask this government if it has the backbone to implement that international investigation,” he said.
Labour Minister Manusha Nanayakkara told parliament that the cabinet of ministers had proposed on Monday that a fresh report be submitted to a parliamentary select committee on the attack.
“The cabinet also discussed government assistance in the event an international investigation was needed.
“This government will in no way hesitate to act,” said Nanayakkara.
However, the MP, who together with Tourism Minister Harin Fernando, was a vocal critic of the previous government’s investigations into the bombings, questioned the timing of the Channel 4 documentary.
“Channel 4 videos like this come out in time for United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) sessions in Geneva,” he said.
“[But] we must definitely study the facts in this video,” he added.
The documentary in question, aired Monday night, claimed that Sri Lanka’s current intelligence chief was complicit in the attack.
The documentary had cited a “whistleblower” identified as Azad Maulana, a former top aide of chief minister Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias Pillayan.
In July 2022, Sri Lanka’s Catholic church rejected a call by then Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe to review a probe into the bombings and enlist the help of UK police authorities to carry out an impartial investigation.
Father Cyril Gamini Fernando, a spokesman for the Colombo archdiocese, said at the time that Wickremesinghe had enough opportunity to seek international assistance in investigating the attack.
The attacks were blamed on a group of local jihadists although the bombings were belated claimed by the Islamic State group led at the time by the internationally-wanted Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who was later killed in a US bombing in Syria six months later. (Colombo/Sep05/2023)