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Easter Sunday probe: SJB demands answers to specific questions, disclosure of Fathima Hadiya’s testimony  



By Shamindra Ferdinando

Samagi Jana Balavegaya MP Manusha Nanayakkara says the government has not responded yet to specific issues raised by him and his parliamentary colleague, Harin Fernando in parliament in respect of the 2019 Easter Sunday carnage.

Reiterating that the SLPP government bore the responsibility for punishing those who perpetrated the crime regardless of political consequences, Galle district MP Nanayakkara said that the government owed an explanation.

Responding to a query, the former UNPer told The Island that the SJB raised several pertinent questions, both in and outside parliament and of them the foremost was the alleged link between the Easter Sunday suicide bombers and the intelligence services. 

A senior official who had served the intelligence services at the time of the 2019 attacks told The Island that interested parties were propagating lies for political benefit. “We never interfered with police investigations or tried to influence the Easter attackers,” the official said. He said so when The Island requested him to comment on SJB’s accusations.

MP Nanayakkara emphasized that the SJB sought an explanation as regards the involvement of some members of the intelligence services on the basis of statements made before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI). Therefore, there was no need for the SJB to lodge fresh complaints with the police as accusations, assertions and claims pertaining to the alleged intelligence services link were entirely based on what transpired before the PCoI. Of course some of those statements were made in camera as well as before the media by intelligence and police personnel, both in service and retired.

Lawmaker Nanayakkara said that the SJB demanded in parliament government response to the following questions (1) Did two officers from the Intelligence services and the Terrorist Investigation Department (TID) visit the home of Jamil, the person assigned to mount suicide attack at Taj Samudra, hours before he detonated himself at Tropical Inn, Dehiwela? (ii) Did Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) remove a person arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) following investigations facilitated by technical means (iii) Did relevant authorities conduct an investigation into the alleged links between the DMI officer who removed the suspect claiming the operation was conducted by them? and finally (iv) would the government reveal the identity of the DMI officer identified as ‘Sonic’ on whose intervention with a person known as Matale Zahran soon after the Easter Sunday attacks the ISIS claimed responsibility for the April 2019 incidents.

MP Nanayakkara also raised issue over the failure on the part of the government to conduct a proper inquiry into the disappearance of Sarah, the wife of the Katuwapitiya bomber Hastun in spite of the law enforcement officer who allegedly helped her to secure refuge in India being in police custody. 

Emphasizing that the Easter Sunday massacre couldn’t be swept under the carpet under any circumstances, MP Nanayakkara said that the public realized those responsible for negligence should be dealt with. Similarly, those who perpetrated the heinous crime should be exposed without further delay, the MP said adding that they wouldn’t allow the government rhetoric to deceive the public.

Nanayakkara said that in addition to those questions there were other unexplained issues as well. The Galle district lawmaker said that the security establishment owed an explanation why specific intelligence on the impending attack made available by India on April 4, 2019 was ignored whatever the shortcomings on the part of the political apparatus. The MP said that an explanation was also required from the Attorney General’s Department sitting on Zahran’s file since 2017 and the turmoil created by Namal Kumara whose unsubstantiated accusations in respect of an alleged bid to assassinate the then President Maithripala Sirisena and at that time former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The SJB lawmaker questioned the rationale in questioning Zahran’s wife, Abdul Cader Fathima Hadiya,  in camera. The government’s sincerity could be proved by making evidence before the PCoI public, the MP said, underscoring the importance of inquiring into the possibility of rogue group operating outside the government control backing Zahran’s gang. The MP also made reference to the members of Zahran’s group taking refuge in safe houses at Panadura and Ja-ela three days before the Easter Sunday attacks.

Claiming that they had discussed the delay in mounting the attack, MP Nanayakkara said that reference had been made to a person identified as ‘Boss’ who expressed concern over that.

The SJB spokesperson asked whether a person who headed a particular intelligence service regularly attended meetings chaired by the Attorney General to discuss matters pertaining to the Easter Sunday attacks. The MP declined to name the person when The Island sought an explanation.

Referring to Chief Government Whip Johnston Fernando’s challenge to the SJB to repeat its accusations outside the parliament, lawmaker Nanayakkara pointed out his party was concerned about leaving out a section of evidence received by the PCoI  out of the Easter Sunday report.

When The Island pointed out that Attorney General Dappula de Livera, PC, had been provided with altogether 87 volumes, MP Nanayakkara said that they didn’t receive the entire report.

In spite of the government resorting to various pressure tactics meant to silence the SJB, the party was determined to pursue the case, MP Nanayakkara said.

How could Public Security Minister (ret.) Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera claim that they didn’t have information on Katuwapitiya Church suicide bomber Hastun’s wife Sarah, while the policeman who allegedly helped her to flee the country remained in the custody of the TID, MP Nanayakkara asked. The lawmaker also stressed the need to clarify matters pertaining to an alleged conflict between the DMI and the police intelligence (State Intelligence Service) at the time Zahran mounted the attacks.

The CID recently recorded statements from SJB lawmakers Eran Wickremaratne, Nalin Bandara and Ashoka Abeysinghe as regards accusations they made in respect of Easter Sunday attacks. SIS Chief Maj. Gen. Suresh Salley has complained to the CID regarding misleading statements made by lawmakers.

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Information Dept. media release: EC Chief asks public not to be misled



by Priyan de Silva

Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka, Nimal Punchihewa, asked to comment on a special news release, purportedly issued by the Director General of the Department of Government Information, on Sunday (29), told  The Island  that preparations for the 09 March local government elections were going ahead, as planned, and that the media statement at issue was misleading.

The media statement says: “The gazette notice with signatures of the Chairman and other members of the Election Commission required for the commencement of the Local Government election process has not been sent to the Government Press for printing.”

Punchihewa requested the public not to be misled by any misinformation being spread in an attempt to create doubts in their minds.He also  reiterated that the EC would not be deterred by any acts of intimidation.

Three of the EC members have been threatened with death by an unidentified caller to resign from their posts. They are S. B. Divaratne, M. M. Mohamed and K. P. P. Pathirana. The Opposition has accused the government of trying to sabotage the LG polls.

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Cardinal urges Catholics to fight for justice



 By Norman Palihawadane

Today’s Church does not need ‘sacristy Catholics’ but a laity who fight for justice, says Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith.

Addressing a gathering at a ceremony to mark the 40th Anniversary of the Deva Dharma Nikethanaya, at Archbishop’s House auditorium, at Borella, last week, the Cardinal said that turning every layperson into a mature Christian, fit for leadership, should be the foremost duty of the Catholic Church. “Once the Catholic Church functioned as a Bishop-priest centered church and did only what the Bishop of the priest would say. We have to change the outlook of the Church. Today, we no longer need such sacristy Catholics. We need a laity who are ready to get down to the streets and fight for justice and do what is right for society,” the Cardinal said.

“The Church needs Christians who will commit themselves for Christ and follow his example. We do not need spoon-fed babies,” he said.

He said that the Bishops and Priests should not be afraid of handing over the responsibilities to the laity. “We should share our responsibilities with joy. The Church cannot continue otherwise. Understanding this situation, Pope Francis wants to change the priest-centres position that has become a theoretical doctrine in the church and to study how the church should change in a way that suits the present world.”

Apostolic Nuncio to Sri Lanka Rev Dr Brian Udaigwe and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference President Rt Rev Dr Harold Anthony Perera also addressed the gathering.

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Protests against 13A used to arouse communal feelings – SJB



Protests against the implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution are being used to arouse communal feelings among people ahead of an election, says the main Opposition SJB.

Addressing the media on Saturday, at the Opposition Leader’s Office in Colombo, Chief Opposition Whip, SJB Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella, said:

“This country has witnessed many instances in the past. This time, too, the same old slogan of the country being divided is heard again.

“The 13th Amendment is part of the Constitution. All parties have contested elections under the 13th Amendment. The UNP, SLFP, SLPP and JVP have contested provincial council elections. It shows that they have accepted the 13th Amendment. Those in such parties now opposing the 13th Amendment must first explain how they oppose it directly while accepting the same indirectly by sending their members to the provincial councils set up under the 13th Amendment,” Kiriella said.

“The claim of the country being divided by the 13th amendment is made to arouse the communal feelings.

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