Easter Sunday attacks: Card Ranjith against easy acquittals
The archbishop of Colombo expresses sadness and dissatisfaction with the release of some defendants. The “investigations are not going the way they should " and the relatives of the victims are still "waiting for justice". The presidential commission of inquiry into the massacre says that no one should comment on the decisions taken; it wants to gag the three auxiliaries.
Colombo (AsiaNews) – Some of the people detained in connection with last year’s bloody attacks have been released recently.
For Archbishop Card Malcolm Ranjith, “It is sad and unfortunate that those who are alleged to have been involved in the Easter Sunday attack are released and cleared.”
In speaking out, the prelate is not heeding a warning issued by the presidential commission of inquiry against the capital’s three auxiliary bishops and even former President Maithripala Sirisena not to comment on its decisions.
The Easter Sunday attacks left 280 people dead and almost 600 wounded. The relatives of the dead and wounded “are waiting for justice to be meted out,” the archbishop said. For this reason, it is unfortunate that the investigations are not going the way they should.”
At the same time, police are making contradictory statements. At a press conference, the cardinal showed a video in which police spokesman Jaliya Senaratne allegedly found "clear evidence" of the involvement of Riyaj Bathiudeen, brother of former minister Rishad, in the attacks.
Hence, the prelate wonders whether a “political deal” is behind the release of a person involved in the attacks linked to leading government officials.
The Catholic lawmaker Harin Fernando told the Commission that Card Ranjith had been warned of possible attacks on Easter Sunday. For this reason, he did not celebrate the solemn Mass, which he does every year per tradition.
Colombo’s three auxiliary bishops, Maxwell Silva, Anthony Jayakody and Anton Ranjith rejected the claim as false.
Meanwhile, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has arrested 119 individuals in connection with the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks whilst the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) has arrested 78 suspects. Of these, at least 92 have already been questioned and another 33 suspects are in prison.
Speaking on the matter, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that “National Security was the first and foremost responsibility of the government.”
“I am not prepared to hand over the power of arresting or arbitrarily releasing people to politicians, as happened in the past. I will also take actions to rectify any omissions or mistakes made by the relevant authorities or officials,” he added.