Updated: September 17, 2021 11:31 AM GMT
Catholic priests and nuns carry photos as they pay tribute to victims killed in the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings, at St. Sebastian's Church in Negombo, Sri Lanka, on April 21, 2021. (Photo: AFP)
The Sri Lankan Catholic Church has sought an inquiry into the recent disclosure by a prominent Buddhist monk about the likelihood of another attack similar to the Easter Sunday bombings in 2019.
Ven. Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thera of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) made the startling warning during a political talk show on a private television channel recently.
Father Cyril Gamini, former director of the National Catholic Center for Social Communications, called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Inspector General of Police (IGP) C.D Wickramaratne seeking an investigation into the statement made by Ven. Gnanasara Thera.
“Conduct an immediate and comprehensive investigation to ensure the safety of the public in the country,” Father Gamini said in Colombo on Sept. 16.
He drew attention to Ven. Gnanasara Thera’s claim that “the President had been informed of all these matters,” and said if the statement was true then the individuals or groups involved should be immediately arrested along with the weapons they had collected to carry out the attack.
“We don’t know at what point a similar attack will take place again,” Father Gamini said. “We have a fear and suspicion that this attack could happen to anyone, anywhere.”
The priest recalled how the intelligence unit had received an alert about a month before the Easter Sunday attack in 2019 but had not acted to prevent it.
The Church had to approach the UN Human Rights Commission and the international community as it did not believe justice would prevail in the country regarding the 2019 bombings that left more than 250 people dead, he added.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit to Italy sparked controversy after Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith claimed it was an attempt to mislead the Vatican about the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks.
Bishops, civic rights activists and opposition parties have expressed deep concern and displeasure with the current investigations.
A hard-liner, Ven. Gnanasara Thera was sentenced to a six-year prison term for contempt of court last year after shouting at a judge for holding him guilty of accosting the wife of missing journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda. However, he was accorded a presidential pardon within few months of serving his term.
Neville Abeyratne, the attorney-at-law, said the monk claimed to know about extremist groups, the people behind them, people who were being trained and the devices they could use. “Legal enforcement authorities can take action to prevent such a calamity in the country,” he said.
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