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Harin grilled by CID on Easter Attacks

2 years ago

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  • MP provides nearly 5-hour-long statement
  • Slams interrogation as a ‘waste of time’
  • Sajith claims Easter probe failure suggests Govt. cover-up
By Buddhika Samaraweera and Aazam Ameen Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP Harin Fernando yesterday (28) appeared before the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) to record a nearly five-hour long statement regarding comments he had made about the Easter Sunday terror attacks of 21 April 2019. He had been summoned before the CID on an earlier occasion too, in connection with an investigation by the CID into statements made by him regarding the Easter Sunday bombings. After providing his statement and exiting the CID, he told The Morning that the exercise had been a “waste” of his time. Elaborating further, Fernando said that yesterday’s round of questioning was no different to what he had gone through previously. “I have given more than four statements on the same already. I have been questioned by the Presidential Commission as well. I have also been questioned in front of a five-bench judge panel,” he told The Morning. Additionally, Fernando stated that if Minister of Public Security Sarath Weerasekara has an issue over the statements made by him, he invites the Minister to an open debate. “I call him for an open debate to discuss the facts I have disclosed in Parliament over the Easter Attacks, and for him to answer such questions in front of national media,” Fernando stated. He further alleged that the Easter Attacks were more than a terrorist attack, as he referred to it as a “clear murder of people”. “This is why we are asking the Government for answers, which they have not given us yet,” he stated SJB and Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, SJB General Secretary and MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara, and SJB MP Manusha Nanayakkara were also present with Fernando at the CID yesterday. Speaking to the media at the time, Premadasa said that the Government should take action to apprehend all the suspects involved in the Easter Sunday terror attacks, instead of engaging in a political witch-hunt of Opposition MPs. He also said that instead of detaining the suspects involved in terrorist activities in prisons and maintaining them with taxpayer money, action should be taken to punish them severely. "In this situation, anyone can engage in terrorist activities, but after they are imprisoned, they live very well on taxpayers’ money. Is this the policy of this Government? Anyone who has engaged in terrorist activities should be severely punished, but the present Government does not seem to have the ability or desire to do so," he alleged. However, Premadasa also emphasised that the sentencing of any suspect should be carried out after a formal, independent, and transparent judicial process. Alleging that the Government has so far failed to carry out a proper investigation into the Easter Sunday terror attacks, Premadasa claimed that this failure by the relevant authorities has raised doubts over whether the Government is trying to cover up the incident. He further noted that the Opposition MPs are not afraid of the incumbent Government's political witch hunt targeting them, and that they would continue to stand up for the protection of all SJB members, including Fernando. He explained that the main objective of the Government should be to serve justice to the victims of the Easter Sunday terror attacks, as promised to the people, especially the Catholics, during the elections, as the people's hopes would not be fulfilled by achieving the political motives of taking down Opposition MPs. On 21 April 2019, Easter Sunday, three Churches (the St. Sebastian’s Church in Katuwapitiya, the St. Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade, and the Zion Church in Batticaloa) as well as three luxury hotels in Colombo (the Cinnamon Grand, Kingsbury, and Shangri-La hotels) were targeted in a series of co-ordinated terrorist suicide bombings, for which an Islamist group claimed responsibility. Later that day, another two bomb explosions took place at a house in the Dematagoda area and the Tropical Inn Lodge in Dehiwala. A total of 267 people were killed in the bombings, including at least 45 foreign nationals, while around 500 were injured. All eight of the suicide bombers in the attacks were Sri Lankan citizens associated with the National Thowheed Jama'ath (NTJ) organisation founded by the suicide bomber who attacked the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo, Mohamed Cassim Mohamed Zaharan, alias Zaharan Hashim.

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