Cardinal fumes at lack of action on Easter Sunday bombing investigations

St. Anthony's Shrine, Kochchikade. Photo: AntanO / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

COLOMBO (UCAN): “The most senior person in the government should have been brought to the Criminal Investigation Department and questioned if he had been aware in advance of the Easter bomb blasts,” Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith of Colombo, Sri Lanka, said on March 8 at Tewatta Church.

Cardinal Ranjith said the administration has not taken action regarding the Easter Sunday suicide bombings that killed about 300 people, including 40 foreign nationals, and injured at least 500 (Sunday Examiner, 28 April 2019). A group of nine suicide bombers affiliated to local Islamist extremist group National Thowheed Jamath attacked three churches and three luxury hotels on April 21.

The cardinal said he is ready to launch street protests if Sri Lanka’s government does not bring the culprits behind last year’s Easter bombings to book.

“There are reports that police officers investigating the Easter Sunday suicide bomb blasts are currently being transferred,” he noted adding that the government should publish all the interim committee reports on the bomb blasts.

“Investigations into the Easter Sunday attacks have revealed that current government-related ‘big people’ have also been involved and no action has been taken against them,” he said. 

“We will take to the streets with our people whether we have this election or not,” he warned alluding to a parliamentary election slated for April 25.

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The suicide attacks became a turning point in the presidential election, bringing national security to the top of the agenda.

The government has initiated several investigations into the blasts, including one by a presidential panel and another by a parliamentary select committee.

The president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, appointed an independent commission to find the real culprits, supporters and all those responsible for the Easter massacre. Cardinal Ranjith appeared before the pcommission of inquiry on December 6 and 7 last year (Sunday Examiner, 29 December 2019).

The cardinal said he decided to appear before the commission to represent the concerns, grievances and views of the victims, their families and the Catholic community at large. He said those responsible should be brought to book and those who are linked to the attack directly and indirectly should be punished.

Money allocated for the Christmas carol operation by the government in December has been used for the welfare of victims of the Easter bombing. Rajapaksa handed over a check for three million rupees ($127,470) to Cardinal Ranjith.

“Those who have not acted in this connection are not eligible for our Catholic votes. We expect the president to make a statement in this regard,” Cardinal Ranjith said. 

“We have witnessed persons involved in this incident leave the country,” he said.

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