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Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka to hold daily Easter attack hearings

Catholics have been demanding implementation of the Presidential Commission report

UCA News reporter, Colombo

UCA News reporter, Colombo

Published: November 12, 2021 09:35 AM GMT

Updated: November 12, 2021 04:13 PM GMT

Sri Lanka to hold daily Easter attack hearings

Security personnel stand guard at St. Anthony's Church in Colombo on April 23, 2019, two days after a series of bomb blasts ripped through churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. (Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP)

The Sri Lankan government has decided to hear all cases related to the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks on a daily basis even as Catholic bishops questioned its sincerity in conducting the investigations.

The local Church has been demanding implementation of the recommendations of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) into the attacks that left 269 people dead and over 500 injured.

Speaking in the national parliament on Nov. 11, Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera, the minister of public security, said cases related to the 24 main suspects would be heard daily.

"Twenty-four suspects including Naufar Moulavi, the mastermind of the attack, have been indicted and 32 others are being tried in five high courts," he said.

He further informed parliament that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) had analyzed 112,000 telephone conversations during the investigation into the attack and had filed cases on 23,700 charges.

Nimal Lanza, a Catholic minister of state for rural roads and other infrastructure, called for the speedy implementation of the PCoI recommendations.

The government has not implemented most of the recommendations of the PCoI. The report has been a waste of time and a waste of hope to all of us

“Our Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith clearly calls for the PCoI recommendations to be implemented. Therefore, even though we represent the government, we clearly say that those recommendations should be implemented soon," he said.

Catholic leaders have repeatedly called on the government to find the invisible masterminds behind the attacks and to expose the real motive behind the attack.

Cardinal Ranjith recently said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had told him that he would become unpopular if he were to implement all the recommendations made in the PCoI.

"The government has not implemented most of the recommendations of the PCoI. The report has been a waste of time and a waste of hope to all of us," said Cardinal Ranjith in October while calling for international assistance in uncovering the truth.

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The 22 volumes of the PCoI report submitted to the attorney general in March recommended criminal proceedings to be considered against former president Maithripala Sirisena and others. It also identified a number of Islamist groups and the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), an extreme Sinhala Buddhist organization, accused of causing or supporting racial and religious disturbances in the island nation.

Sunimal Warnakulasuriya, a victim of the Easter Sunday attacks, asked why the government was not making public all 22 volumes.

“If these volumes come out, people will be able to uncover more hidden truths," he told UCA News.

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