Cardinal, Oppn demand foreign probe into Easter Sunday attacks after Channel 4 revelations

Cardinal, Oppn demand foreign probe into Easter Sunday attacks after Channel 4 revelations

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Cardinal

Susitha Fernando 

Colombo, Sep 6 (IANS) Following the shocking revelations of UK’s Channel 4 TV that the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings by an ISIS affiliated local extremist group were done to create a ground to bring former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to power in Sri Lanka, the Archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, demanded an international investigation into the multiple bomb attacks on three churches and three star hotels that killed 269 people and injured over 500, including a number of foreigners. 

The head of the Catholic Church has refused to accept the ongoing investigations and court cases, claiming that they are biased, claiming that there is a ‘mastermind’ behind the horrendous incident. 

Soon after being appointed as the acting President after the ex-President fled the country fearing public riots in July 2022, Ranil Wickremsinghe had promised a fresh probe with the support of British government, including the famed Scotland Yard, into the coordinated suicide bomb attacks that took place almost at the same time on the Easter Sunday morning in 2019. 

Joining Archbishop Ranjith, Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa too has called for an international investigation, after complaining that a domestic probe would never uncover the mastermind behind the attacks.

Demanding a probe by an independent international investigation team, the Cardinal urged the government to suspend those holding high positions in the police and intelligent services, including those whose names have transpired in the Channel 4 video.

The Channel 4 documentary interviewed Azad Maulana, former spokesman of Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, the leader of the breakaway group of the Tamil Tiger rebels LTTE which later joined Sri Lankan military as a pro-state armed group helping the government win the three decades long civil war in 2009.

Maulana told the Channel 4 programme that in 2018, he had arranged a meeting between ISIS inspired fighters and a top intelligence officer, Suresh Sally, who was promoted as the Director of the State Intelligence Service after Gotabaya was elected as President in 2019.

He also said that Chandrakanthan, who was in detention over the death of a Tamil politician in prison, had met the group of ISIS inspired extremists and had said that they could be useful in creating insecurity in the country.

Maulana also said that on the morning of the attacks, the intelligence officer had asked him to bring a man from Taj Samudra hotel in Colombo, but he could not do it as he was out of Colombo.

But later he realised that it was the suicide bomber whose bomb was not detonated at the 5-star hotel, but later in a guesthouse outside Colombo.

In the Parliament on Wednesday, Chandrakanthan, who is now the Minister of Rural Road Development, refuted all the allegations levelled against him and claimed that Maulana was lying.

Cardinal Ranjith, meanwhile, criticised the government’s response to the latest revelations that a Parliamentary Select Committee would be appointed to probe the latest allegations, saying that “the present and previous governments paid only lip service to such findings".

"No tangible and credible results might emerge from yet another such Parliamentary Select Committee if it is only a matter of producing a report," the Cardinal charged.

The Channel 4 video also interviewed a former Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer who conducted investigations into the attacks and complained that  the Rajapaksa government diverted all findings and removed all police officers who were carrying out investigations.

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