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Sri Lankan Catholic priest summoned for raising questions

Father Cyril Gamini had accused intelligence units of involvement in the Easter Sunday attacks

UCA News reporter, Colombo

UCA News reporter, Colombo

Published: October 28, 2021 10:38 AM GMT

Updated: October 28, 2021 11:50 AM GMT

Sri Lankan Catholic priest summoned for raising questions

A policeman stands guard at St. Anthony's Church in Colombo on Aug. 21 next to a placard and black flags placed in protest at the failure to prosecute those responsible for the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings. (Photo: AFP)

Father Cyril Gamini, a prominent Catholic priest in Sri Lanka, was summoned to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) for raising questions about the involvement of the state intelligence operatives in the Easter Sunday attacks.

He was to present himself on Oct. 28 but has sought a week’s time to prepare and present his statement.

Major General Suresh Sallay, director of the State Intelligence Service, had complained that a group of Catholic priests including Father Gamini had reportedly alleged that intelligence units had provided financial and other vital assistance to Saharan Hashim, leader of the National Thowheed Jamath, who led the suicide bombings on Easter Sunday in 2019.

He had requested the CID to conduct an investigation into the allegations as they had endangered his life as well as the lives of his family members.

The local Church sent three priests — Father Shantha Kumar Weliwita, Father Ravin Sandasiri and Father Sreenath Manoj — to the CID in the morning to convey Father Gamini’s request for another week to make the relevant statement. The request was granted by the CID, said Father Weliwita.

On Oct. 27, the CID informed the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court that an investigation was launched into the comments on the Easter Sunday attacks made by Father Gamini and other Catholic priests during an online forum held recently.

Catholics in Sri Lanka have repeatedly aired their unhappiness at the lack of desirable progress in the inquiry into the attacks

The CID told the court that Major General Salley had claimed that the forum raised false allegations against him. It also informed that the progress of the investigations will be reported after recording statements from the complainant and all other concerned parties.

Public Security Minister Sarath Weerasekara said that those having information should not go only to the media but also to the CID. “We are still investigating the Easter Sunday attacks and what they know will be important in arresting more suspects,” he said on Oct. 28.

Catholics in Sri Lanka have repeatedly aired their unhappiness at the lack of desirable progress in the inquiry into the attacks.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo even said that the recommendations of a presidential report into the bombings cannot be implemented under the current administration in Sri Lanka.

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“It has been nine months since the report was handed over to the attorney general. Very few of the recommendations in the revealed volume have been implemented,” he said while speaking at a prayer service at St. Anthony’s Shrine in Kochchikade, one of the targets of the Easter bombings, on Oct. 21.

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