ECONOMYNEXT – President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has appointed yet another committee to examine the report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) into the Easter Sunday suicide bombings which killed 260 people in three Churches and three hotels in 2019.
The Presidential Secretariat announced last night that the committee, comprising government ministers, would study the facts and recommendations on the course of action contained in the final report of the PCoI into the attacks and the report of the Sectoral Oversight Committee on National Security which has been submitted to Parliament.
The Committee is headed by Minister Chamal Rajapaksa and its members are Ministers Johnston Fernando, Udaya Gammanpila, Ramesh Pathirana, Prasanna Ranatunga and Rohitha Abeygunawardene who have been given March 15 as the deadline to finalize their recommendations.
The attacks have already been investigated by the Police and a Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry which faulted the State Intelligence Service (SIS) and particularly its former Head the Director of the State Intelligence Service, Nilantha Jayawardena.
The Parliamentary investigation found that Jayawardena “bears the greatest responsibility” in the failure to prevent or mitigate the effects of the Easter Sunday attacks on Churches and Hotels.
However during the last hearing of the PCoI Jayawardena said that he had informed then-President Maithripala Sirisena of information provided by a “friendly country,” which we now know is India, of the impending attack.
The then Secretary to the Ministry of Defense Hemasiri Fernando also deposed at the inquiry saying that when he was informed, he had directed Jayawardena to tell Sirisena and the SIS chief had said that he had already done so.
Sirisena went to Singapore that weekend on a private visit and returned to Sri Lanka after the blasts.
Opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya Member of Parliament Mujibur Rahman has called for the arrest of the former President as he, as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and Minister of Public Security, should have acted on the information provided by Jayawardena.
Most of the dead are those who were worshipping at Easter Sunday Mass at the Katuwapitiya Roman Catholic Church and at the Shrine of St Anthony at Kochchikade.
Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the Catholic Archbishop of Colombo, has called for the full PCoI report to be provided to him as his congregation, which refrained from retaliatory violence, is crying for justice.
The Cardinal from the very outset has been sceptical of the police investigations and has complained that the probes focused on whether the attacks could have been prevented and not who was responsible for planning and executing the strikes.
“Those investigations seemed as if they were carried out for the sake of investigating with no genuine interest. I have therefore decided on an alternative approach in relation to one specific matter through the courts. You will learn about it soon,” he said.
Ranjith has threatened to go before the International Courts as he is not getting justice from the Sri Lankan government.
Eight members of the Islamic extremist National Thowheed Jamaat launched suicide bomb attacks against three Churches and three Hotels. A total of 260 people, including 8 suicide bombers, died and over 400 were injured in the attacks. Among the dead are at least 45 children and 40 foreigners. (Colombo, February 20, 2021)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana