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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Easter Sunday Attacks; The cover-up as bad as the crime

This week as Sri Lanka commemorated the dreadful fourth anniversary of the Easter Sunday attacks on 21 April 2019, the former Attorney General Dappula de Livera was issued a summons to appear before the Terrorism Investigation Division. He had been initially informed to make an appearance at the TID to record a statement pertaining to his controversial comment on a massive conspiracy behind the Easter Sunday terror attacks just as he was relinquishing duties as the Attorney General. After making the claim Livera has not elaborated on or substantiated his claim.

In the absence of any movement or progress in the investigations and prosecution of perpetrators there is no choice but to assume that the current Wickremesinghe regime is also very much part of this cover-up.

Livera is not the only high-ranking government official to point out there had been a conspiracy behind the terror attacks that killed over 260 innocent souls. In a Fundamental Rights petition to the Supreme Court in 2022, the former director of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), SSP Abeysekera made chilling revelations that directly implicated links between the Easter Sunday bombers and several state intelligence agencies. He also claims that there was serious interference by these agencies into the CID investigations into the operations of the terrorist group called the NTJ in the lead up to the Easter attacks.

In July 2020 under the Gotabaya Rajapaksa presidency, SSP Abeysekera was arrested by the Colombo Crime Division (CCD) which accused him of introducing weapons to implicate former Deputy Inspector-General Vass Gunawardena, who was convicted of the 2013 murder of businessman Mohamed Shiyam. After his arrest, Abeysekera was incarcerated for 11 months in connection over what the Court of Appeal later called a “concocted story.” Sri Lanka’s best known super-sleuth contracted COVID-19 and experienced a life-threatening cardiac event while imprisoned. His lawyers, activists and foreign governments had to lobby for basic healthcare to be provided for the former Director of the CID.

While there have been three governments since the Easter attacks in 2019, none have delivered justice to the victims. Not a single perpetrator has been held accountable and there is little sign of any progress in bringing those who were responsible for this crime to justice. Even though there is no evidence to directly link former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to the crime, there is no doubt that he was the biggest beneficiary of the atrocity. Within a week of the attacks, the former secretary of defence announced his candidacy for president. Yet, having been elected on a national security and law and order ticket, President Rajapaksa never delivered on his promise to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice.

His successor, President Ranil Wickremesinghe has also shown little interest in pursuing justice for this crime. It is possibly over his own neglect as prime minister in 2019 when he claimed that he was left out of national security matters by then President Sirisena.

With a former Attorney General and the head of the CID claiming that there was a conspiracy and an involvement of State intelligence personnel in these attacks one has to surmise there is indeed a grand conspiracy not only in carrying out the attacks but in the cover-up since. In the absence of any movement or progress in the investigations and prosecution of perpetrators there is no choice but to assume that the current Wickremesinghe regime is also very much part of this cover-up. Those who carried out this heinous crime nor those who cover it up should ever be allowed to evade justice, however long it may take.

FT editorial.

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