Justice process for East Sunday attack victims should begin by April: Cardinal

Malcolm Ranjith

The Archdiocese of Colombo yesterday faulted the Government for what it termed as repeated delays in bringing to justice those connected to the Easter Sunday attacks, and voiced concern on whether they were caused by “external interferences.”

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, issuing a strongly worded statement, appealed for the process to begin at least by the second anniversary of the attacks that falls next month. The statement also pointed out that even though nearly two years had lapsed there was little tangible headway in investigations to bring justice to the hundreds of people affected.

“This makes us wonder whether there are any external interferences that hamper the efficiency of these institutions in finding out who the real culprits are, and in prosecuting those responsible for the attacks. If this does not happen, we are left with no other option but to intensify further our protest action and to extend it to the whole country,” the two page statement said.

It also went onto request the Government and other stakeholders to expedite further investigations on the matter and bring those responsible before the law without delay, while also speeding up action and the process of prosecution against those who have been arrested in connection with the bombings.

“We wish also to draw attention to the need to investigate thoroughly all those who, during the latter years of the North and East conflict, had contacts or dealings with Zaharan Hashim who is alleged to have been the leader of the suicide bombers.

“We also wish to categorically affirm that it is absolutely necessary to prosecute without hesitation and further delays all those political leaders and officials, irrespective of the position they held, who have been seconded for prosecution in the report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the Easter Sunday attacks, and that for shirking their duty so callously and doing absolutely nothing to prevent the massacre having known sufficiently ahead of time through the report of intelligence that such an attack would really take place,” the statement added.

Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith noted in the statement that the Government should proscribe extremist Islamic groups that are a threat to national security with immediate effect, as well as their foreign sponsors and local agents, adding that those Islamic preachers who promote religious extremism through hate speech “should be banished from the island”.

“We wish to underscore that every effort should be made to implement or at least initiate the first steps in order to implement the foregoing demands before the 21 April 2021, which is the second anniversary of the attacks. When we look at the way the Criminal Investigations Department and all the other relevant State institutions handle intelligence and find out the culprits who commit other crimes in the country, taking action against them speedily, it baffles us as to why, after nearly two years they cannot do so in this case – getting at the culprits who murdered 269 innocent human beings and seriously injured over 300 others, some of whom remain maimed and made to go from hospital to hospital for the rest of their life.”

The statement also warned that the failure to complete the justice process for the Easter attacks could result the country being left vulnerable to future terror attacks, and called on the Opposition to support the Government towards this end.

“It is very clear that if the extremist terrorists organisations who are responsible for the attacks and those who finance them are allowed to possess weapons of different sports and operate freely, such a situation could lead in the future to similar or more violent attacks in any place or against any racial or religious group in the country. Therefore, it poses a serious threat to national peace and security. It is indeed the primary and principle duty of the State to stave off such threats to national security. It is also the responsibility of the Opposition to give their fullest cooperation in this regard without the petty interests of party politics.”

(Source: Daily FT)