Colombo, Jan 13 (EFE).- Colombo’s Archbishop Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith on Friday demanded an in-depth probe into the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings carried out by Islamists, which killed 269 people and wounded hundreds, a day after the Sri Lankan Supreme Court ordered former president Maithripala Sirisena to compensate the victims for his inaction.
Ranjith said the court verdict, which also found four other high officials guilty of negligence, was a “great opening” to further investigate the responsibility of the country’s rulers at the time, who allegedly possessed intelligence reports warning of the attacks in advance.
The Supreme Court ordered Sirisena to pay 100 million Sri Lankan rupees ($273,334), while smaller fines were slapped on former defense secretary Hemasiri Fernando, former Police Inspector General Pujith Jayasundara, former head of national intelligence Sisira Mendis, and former head of state intelligence Nilantha Jayawardena.
“The Attorney General said that it should be investigated but so far that has not been done in a comprehensive manner. The judgment given will be a great opening for us to start looking into all other aspects of this case,” Ranjith told reporters in the capital.
“We hope with this judgment a new era for the freedom of law and justice will start in our country,” the Cardinal said adding that the Catholic Church will continue the struggle to get justice for the victims.
“Who orchestrated these attacks needs to be investigated further,” the clergyman said, referring to the serial bombings claimed by the Islamic State terror group and attributed by the police to the local Islamist group National Thowheed Jamaat, led by Zahran Hashmi.
“Because we are not satisfied with just the authors (of the attack) but also those who had contacts with Zahran Hashim group. Who knew about them and who had dealings?” Ranjith asked.
After Thursday’s Supreme Court decision, the Catholic Church of Sri Lanka expects the attorney general to launch criminal proceedings against Sirisena and other political leaders.
“Further investigations have to be done,” said lawyer Shammil J Perera, who represents the archbishop, alleging that authorities have not implemented the recommendations of a commission established to investigate the attacks.
The 2019 Easter bombings, in which several attackers simultaneously struck three churches and three luxury hotels, leaving behind 269 people dead, including 45 children, and wounded more than 400. EFE