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Sri Lanka: Church calls for suspension of intelligence top brass, two SDIGs to facilitate fresh probe

By Shamindra Ferdinando/ The Island.

The National Catholic Committee (NCC) has presented a five-point proposal to President Ranil Wickremesinghe, spelling out how it expects the concerns relating to the 2019 Easter Sunday carnage to be addressed.

The proposal includes the suspension of Senior DIGs, Nilantha Jayawardena, former head of State Intelligence Service (SIS) and Deshabandu Tennkoon named by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry which inquired into the Easter Sunday massacre.

The NCC has proposed an impartial, just, transparent and broad-based investigation in the wake of Channel 4 disclosures to probe the matters that transpired before different commissions and a committee but have remained uninvestigated.

The letter containing the five-point proposal dated 09 Oct. 2023 and addressed to President Ranil Wickremesinghe, has been signed by Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, Bishop of Colombo, Bishop Harold Anthony Perera, Bishop of Kurunegala and the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Valence Mendis, Bishop of Kandy/Apostolic Administrator, Chilaw, Bishop Raymond Wickramasinghe, Bishop of Galle and other senior priests.

Alleging that Public Security Minister Tiran Alles’s recent declaration that 99 percent of Easter Sunday investigation had been concluded was meant to deceive the public and suppress the truth, the NCC has said that (2) the proposed investigation should be directed by an independent international investigation team (3) officers of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) who conducted the original investigation into the National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) bombing campaign should be brought back into the fresh inquiry (4) Senior intelligence officers should be suspended temporarily to allow a truly independent investigation along with Senior DIGs, Jayawardena and Tennakoon and (5) the recommendations made by the PCoI should be implemented without further delay.

Top spokesperson for the Catholic Church Rev. Father Cyril Gamini Fernando told The Island that the issues at hand couldn’t be addressed unless the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government accepted their proposals.

Rev. Fernando has said President Wickremesinghe, appearing on a television programme in Germany recently ruled out an international investigation. But the Church couldn’t refrain from making representations on behalf of the victims and their families. The priest has stressed that the government should realise that the deceased included 45 foreigners and the concerns of their families, too, should be addressed.

Responding to another query, Rev. Fernando said that they had appealed to former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, too, but there had been no response from him.

In their letter to President Wickremesinghe, the NCC has said successive governments shielded Senior DIG Jayawardena named by PCoI and the Supreme Court in respect of a fundamental rights petition. Pointing out that instead of taking immediate disciplinary action as directed by the apex court, the government had initiated yet another inquiry, the NCC has asked President Wickremesinghe whether the government disregarded the SC directive thereby committing contempt of court.

Source: The Island– 12 October 2023

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