08/01/2019, 16.09
SRI LANKA
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Card Ranjith wants the truth over the Easter Sunday attacks before presidential election

by Melani Manel Perera

If the candidates “do not want to engage in the quest for justice, then they should not come to meet me," the prelate said. The bombings on 21 April killed 263 people, but the authorities have not yet identified anyone responsible. The Archbishop of Colombo calls for an independent and impartial commission of inquiry.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Card Albert Malcolm Ranjith (pictured), archbishop of Colombo, said he will not meet any presidential candidates, unless he is given the results of the inquiry into the Easter Sunday attacks.

At a press conference held at the bishop's residence yesterday, the prelate renewed his appeal for an impartial and thorough investigation. The terrorist attacks against three churches and three luxury hotels in the capital cost the lives of 263 people and wounded another 600, mostly Christian worshippers.

Card Ranjith noted that after more than three months have passed since the 21 April bombings, the commission of inquiry has not yet delivered any findings.

Ravi Seneviratne, head of the Criminal Investigations Department, said on 25 July that investigators have not yet found "direct ties" with the Islamic State (IS) group.

Two days after the attacks, IS released a video claiming responsibility via Amaq, a news agency associated with the group. However, Sri Lankan authorities blame two local Islamic groups (National Thowheed Jamath and Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen) with alleged ties to foreign powers.

For the cardinal, "The commission, which should be composed of impartial figures and conduct impartial research, has not yet brought those responsible to justice or punished anyone. In light of this, I call for the creation of an independent commission with impartial members, so that the truth about the Easter Sunday attacks is shown to our people.

The prelate went on to say that “our priority is not the presidential election, but the search for truth and justice.” However, “By saying this, I do not intend to completely reject the election. Voting is necessary, but at the moment the victims of the massacres are still waiting for justice and to understand what happened to them."

The Catholic Church continues to help the wounded and the families of the victims in every possible way, in order to alleviate their suffering. These people do not want compensation, only to see the culprits tried, Card Ranjith explained. "The people behind the attacks and those who knowingly ignored intelligence warnings are still at large," he lamented.

Lastly, he warned presidential candidates against trying "to earn points for themselves" in the race to lead the country. Instead, they should "work together as brothers.” Otherwise, "If they do not want to engage in the quest for justice, then they should not come to meet me."

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