Cardinal refuses to meet Ministers
No meeting until receipt of report: Cardinal
Govt. delegation planned to reassure Cardinal
Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has refused a request for a meeting by Catholic Ministers and Parliamentarians representing the Government, The Morning learnt yesterday (21).
A spokesperson for the Archbishop’s House confirmed to The Morning that no meeting would take place on 2 March as requested by the Government delegation.
“Until the PCoI report on the Easter Sunday attacks is in the hands of His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, he would not be meeting with any politicians,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson further confirmed that the Archbishop is yet to receive any official communication from the Government regarding the report, despite a written request to see it at the beginning of February.
State Minister of Coconut, Kithul, and Palmyrah Cultivation Promotion and Related Industrial Product Manufacturing and Export Diversification Arundika Fernando said earlier yesterday that the Catholic MPs, both in the Government and Opposition, were planning to meet the Archbishop on 2 March.
“We will request His Eminence the Cardinal to keep faith in President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, as the President will certainly do justice to the victims of the Easter attacks,” he said.
However, when contacted, Fernando told The Morning that the meeting had been cancelled.
“The cancellation of the meeting was informed by Minister of Highways Johnston Fernando, and he hasn’t specified any reasons for it,” Fernando added.
Fernando added that the Government is not afraid to reveal the contents of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry’s (PCoI) report about the Easter Sunday attacks.
“The report on the Easter attacks of 21 April 2019 was based on testimonies from 55 persons, including President Sirisena, former PM Wickremesinghe and many senior security officers. However, some of the evidence is confidential,” said Fernando.
According to Fernando, this report would be released to the public after the discussions with the Attorney General.
Meanwhile, a silent protest was conducted on 20 February to oppose the cabinet committee appointed to study the reports compiled by the Presidential Commission probing the 21 April attacks at the St. Sebastian’s Shrine in Katuwapitiya, Negombo.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed a six-member Committee on Friday to study in depth the facts and recommendations on the course of action contained in the final report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) into the Easter Sunday attacks and the report of the Sectoral Oversight Committee on National Security, which has been submitted to Parliament, according to the President’s Media Division.
The Committee is headed by Minister Chamal Rajapaksa, and includes Ministers Johnston Fernando, Udaya Gammanpila, Ramesh Pathirana, Prasanna Ranatunga, and Rohitha Abeygunawardene.
The protest, which was carried out by family members and relatives of the victims of the Easter Attacks, demanded the report of the Presidential Commission that was appointed to probe the attacks be made public with immediate effect, and that those responsible be brought before the law.
Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, who visited Katuwapitiya, told the media that the Government is afraid to reveal some information.
“All details gathered by the Commission must be publicised as they are. None of it can be hidden or selectively made public,” said the Cardinal.
When asked about his concerns on the Presidential Commission report, Fernando added that appointing a Cabinet committee does not mean the report would not be presented to the public, or that the facts would be hidden.
“We need to be mindful that there is confidential information given by the senior officers,” said Fernando.
According to Fernando, the last presidential election was based on two facts: The Central Bank Bond scam and the Easter Sunday attacks.
“President Gotabaya Rajapaksa strictly said that those guilty of carrying out the Easter Sunday Attacks and Central Bank Bond scam should be severely punished. The newly-appointed committee is also an extension of this plan. It is not to safeguard them, but to take action against them,” he added.
The new committee will be provided with the report of the PCoI and the report of the Sectoral Oversight Committee on National Security by the Presidential Secretariat. Hariguptha Rohanadheera, the Director General (Legal), Presidential Secretariat has been appointed as the Secretary to the Committee to facilitate the activities and to carry out other functions of the Committee. The Committee is required to submit its report before 15 March 2021.