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CID unlikely to summon Sirisena despite Prasanna allegation

15 Dec 2021

BY Buddhika Samaraweera The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) is not likely to record a statement from the former President and incumbent Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Government Parliamentarian Maithripala Sirisena over the complaint lodged by the Catholic Church regarding a statement made by Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga to the effect that Sirisena is fully responsible for the Easter Sunday terror attacks of 21 April 2019. When queried as to whether Sirisena would be summoned before the CID or whether a statement would be recorded from him in this regard, Public Security Ministry Secretary Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Jagath Alwis told The Morning yesterday (15): “I don’t think so. It is like this. There is a Commission report (a reference to the report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry [CoI] into the Easter Sunday terror attacks) with the Attorney General (AG). So, if there is anything, the AG will direct us on what to do. Just because someone makes an allegation about a former Head of State, we cannot do it. We will have to wait since there is a process going on.”  The church on 10 December lodged a complaint with the CID, seeking an impartial and comprehensive investigation into a statement made by Ranatunga that Sirisena is fully responsible for the said terror attacks. Colombo Archdiocese Social Communication Director Reverend and Father Jude Chrishantha Fernando filed the complaint with the CID on 10 December, on the Catholic church’s behalf. Fernando, in his complaint, has requested that an impartial and comprehensive investigation be carried out into Ranatunga's statement and that legal action be taken against Sirisena, regardless of rank, if future investigations reveal that the latter is responsible for the said attacks. Ranatunga had recently claimed that Sirisena is fully responsible for the Easter Sunday terror attacks and that his (Ranatunga) position was that the law should be enforced against Sirisena. Accordingly, the complaint made by Fernando with the CID states that he believes that Ranatunga, a powerful Cabinet Minister in the present Government, may have made that statement responsibly. He has also stated in the complaint that he believes that Ranatunga has made such a statement regarding Sirisena, a former President, a political Party leader and a current ruling Party MP, as he (Ranatunga) has sufficient evidence to prove the allegations. “Despite the fact that Government officials, security chiefs and top political authorities in charge of national security had received intelligence information confirming that a terrorist attack had been planned targeting Catholic churches on 21 April 2019, they did not take action to prevent the attacks. Sirisena, who was the then President, armed forces Commander-in-Chief, and Defence Minister, is one of the main parties accused of negligence and dereliction of duty to prevent the said attacks,” the complaint read. However, Fernando claimed in the complaint that lawsuits have been filed against the former Defence Ministry Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Pujith Jayasundara who did not take action to prevent the terror attacks on 21 April 2019, but that no charges or lawsuits have been filed against Sirisena. Therefore, Fernando, in his complaint with the CID, has requested that an impartial and comprehensive investigation be carried out into Ranatunga's statement and that legal action be taken against Sirisena, regardless of rank, if the future investigations reveal that the latter is responsible for the said attacks. 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) and three hotels in Colombo (the Cinnamon Grand, The Kingsbury, and the Shangri-La) were targeted in a series of coordinated suicide bombings. Later that day, another two bomb explosions took place at a house in Dematagoda and the Tropical Inn Lodge in Dehiwala. A total of 269 people excluding the bombers were killed in the bombings, including about 45 foreign nationals, while at least 500 were injured. All eight of the suicide bombers in the attacks were Sri Lankan citizens associated with the National Thowheeth Jamaath organisation founded by one of the suicide bombers at the Shangri-La, Mohamed Cassim Mohamed Zahran alias Zahran Hashim. Later, a CoI was appointed by Sirisena, who was the President at that time, to look into the Easter Sunday terror attacks. The CoI, in its final report, has recommended to the AG that criminal proceedings be instituted against Sirisena under the provisions of the Penal Code for his failure to appoint an Acting Defence Minister when the latter left for Singapore on a private tour on 16 April 2019.

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