Sri Lankan protesters hold photographs of victims in Negombo on April 21 to mark three years since the 2019 Easter Sunday attack that killed 269 people. (Photo: UCA News)
Sri Lankan Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith has questioned whether recommendations of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Easter Sunday attack were not being implemented to protect the real culprits.
"The people of the country have doubts as to whether the current government is protecting the former president out of fear that their involvement in the Easter attack may be revealed," said Cardinal Ranjith at a ceremony in Negombo on April 21 to mark three years since the 2019 bombings.
He said that the former president, intelligence units and the police concealed details of the impending attacks despite having prior knowledge and thereby failed to ensure public safety.
He further alleged that the attack was used by a presidential election candidate to garner support on the issue of national security.
Cardinal Ranjith said the release of former inspector general of police (IGP) Pujith Jayasundara and former defense secretary Hemasiri Fernando, who publicly acknowledged that they knew about the attack, was an insult to those killed and injured in the attack.
"The current IGP, who promoted certain police officers despite the recommendations of the Presidential Commission to conduct disciplinary inquiries, is also responsible for the bloodshed of innocent people who died in the Easter attack," said Cardinal Ranjith.
Meanwhile, in Negombo, thousands including priests and nuns dressed in black marched on the streets holding posters and chanting slogans to mark the anniversary
The cardinal said Pope Francis had invited 35 victims of the attack to Rome. “We will be going to meet the pope today," he said.
Meanwhile, in Negombo, thousands including priests and nuns dressed in black marched on the streets holding posters and chanting slogans to mark the anniversary. Shops remained closed and the streets were lined with black flags and photos of the victims.
The Young Christian Students Movement staged a play while leaders of various religions addressed a gathering.
Buddhist monk Ven. Rajangane Saddharathana Thera promised to help Catholics in every possible way to gain justice for the victims.
The Easter attack by nine suicide bombers belonging to local Islamist extremist group National Thowheed Jamath targeted three churches and luxury hotels on April 21, 2019, claiming 269 lives, including 82 children and 47 foreigners, while injuring more than 500 others.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa swept to power in the aftermath of the attack by pledging a fair probe and to free the country of all terror elements.