The second anniversary of the Easter Sundayattacks was marked with a two minute silence in the country.  Two years on and there is still no sight of justice being delivered for the victims of the attacks who have become by standers to accusations by the Catholic Church, members of the political Opposition and civil society of a government cover up.  Last Sunday a frustrated Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the head of the country’s Roman Catholic Church who has been driving the call for justice over the years with no result, lashed out during a ceremony at the Borella cemetery to bless a monument which was built in memory of the victims.  He charged that the attacks were politically driven, were not connected to religious extremism and that the bombers were manipulated by powerful political forces to consolidate their position. The Cardinal backtracked soon after prompting speculation if he had received a phone call similar to that which was received by Minister Wijedasa Rajapkse after he squealed about the Colombo Port City Commission Bill or whether he was pressured into changing his position. A few days later a representative of the Catholic Church during a talk show said the governmentwas cutting deals with Muslim political parties and questioned if that was how it got their support to pass the 20th Amendment to the Constitution.

In Parliament on the 21st, proceedings descended into chaos and prompted a stand offbetween black clad Opposition MPs and those on the government benches over explosive revelations which were made the day before by Samagi Jana Balawegaya MP Harin Fernandowho was subsequently asked to report to the CID to give a statement. What MP Fernando and his SJB colleague Manusha Nanayakkara brought to light on the floor of the Parliament was evidence which had been given before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing theEaster Sunday attacks but which had been omitted from their Report. Before presenting the evidence Nanayakkara set the stage to pre-emptinterruptions from the government benches and to prevent what had befallen Fernando the day before.  He told government MPs that if he is interrupted by them during his delivery the conclusion which will be drawn is that they have been involved in the attacks and will therefore be incriminating themselves.

Nanayakkaara then went on to describe how a military intelligence officer went to the home of Jameeel, the bomber who failed to explode the bombs at the Taj Hotel, before he exploded them at the Topical Inn in Dehiwela. He asked if an investigation had been carried out to ascertain how the intelligence officer knew the bomber.  He clarified that this was not evidence which had been concocted by the Opposition but that which was given to the PCoI by former IGP Pujith Jayasundara.

The second point raised by Nanayakkara was whether investigations had been conducted into contacts the military intelligence officer who had been arrested by the CID and its former head Shani Abeysekera had with Zaharan.  He explained how the CID had traced this intelligence officer using an IP address but who had been taken away by military intelligence themselves who said it was ‘their operation’.  

The next point raised by Nanayakkara was how an intelligence officer code named Sonic Sonic had met with Zaharan from Matale.  The latter had come from Qatar.  Sonic Sonic had then asked Zahran why ISIS leader leader Al Bhagdadi had not claimed responsibility for the attacks and was told that the swearing had not been made.  Thereafter a telephone call had been made to Indonesia which was followed by the swearing being uploaded and Al Bhagdadi claiming responsibility for the attacks.

Nanayakkara also asked was why MinisterSarath Weerasekera is trying to hush up evidence about the whereabouts of Sara. Arjun Mahinkanda, a police investigator had given evidence to the PCoI that Sara is among the living and that he can provide information how she fled to India by sea. Nanayakkara also pointed out how Abu Bhaker, an officer in the TID who helped with the investigation is on a Detention Order and that all the police officers who had been involved in the investigation had been transferred and that Shani Abeysekera had been arrested.

Nanayakkara also asked why someone who is giving leadership to the military intelligence goes to the Attorney General’s department regularly when the Report is being considered because usually it is police officers who help theAG with such investigations.

Another point raised by Nanayakkara was that between the 4th of April when there had been an intelligence tip off and mid April, a sum of rupees 430 lakhs had been credited to Zaharan’s bank account.  The money had been used for all kinds of activities including to buy meat, weapons and clothes. Nanayakkara asked how these matters escaped attention when Zaharan’s network had been under surveillance since 2014and he had also been paid.

Nanayakkara told Parliament how there were intelligence tip offs on the 4, 19, 20th April and if intelligence officers had also been in contact with the bombers even before the explosions took place why no preventive action was taken.

He asked who in Sri Lanka got the tip off about the attacks and why it was not followed up.

Nanayakkara told Parliament how a man by the name of Namal Kumara had handed over a cassette. At the same time DIG Nalaka Silva had been arrested and the attacks had followed. Before this happened DIG Nalaka Silva had handed over a report to the AG about Zaharan and Thowheed Jamaath and asked for advice to arrest Zaharan but this advice had not been forthcoming.

He also pointed out how just before the attacks the group had divided themselves into two with one group operating from a safe house in Ja Ela and the other from a safe house in Panadura. The groups had communicated using an app called Threema. According to telephone records, conversations between the two groups refer to a ‘Boss’ who was unhappy about the delay to the operation. Nanayakkara told Parliament that it is crucial to know who the Boss is, not to selectively apprehend a Moulavi from Dambulla.

Nanayakkara qestioned whether the tensions between the CID and military intelligence which existed at the time were a deliberate attempt to drive a wedge between the two groups.

He also asked what was in the evidence given by Zaharan’s wife which required the media to leave the premises when she was giving evidence.

Nanayakkara pointed out that investigations had proven that the military had been involved in the killing of Lasantha Wickremetunge, attack on Keith Noyahr and the abduction of Prageeth Ekneligoda. But unseen forces stopped these investigations. He questioned if there was a group which was operating externally to the government in this incident.

The only MP who kept repeatedly interrupting Nanayakkara during his delivery was Johnston Fernando who challenged him to hold a press conference to speak about the information he has.  

Nanayakkara who refused to be baited kept reiterating that the information he was revealing was the evidence which was presented to the PCoI but was left out of their Report. He said it was evidence which was given in the presence of lawyers but when the press was requested to leave.

The government has some serious issues on its hands  The Covid -19 pandemic has a grip on the country again largely due to the Covid- 19 health regulations not being strictly enforced and mismanagement of the vaccination program.  There was a flood of petitions in the Supreme Court challenging the Colombo Porty City Economic Commission Bill which the Court concluded considering on Friday. The Commission of Inquiry on Political Victimisation has been slated as a kangaroo court. Serious questions have been raised about the legitimacy of its recommendations which are seen primarily as undermining the independence of the judiciary and the public service. TNA MP Sumanthiran told Parliament during the debate on the adjournment motion on Thursday that the Commission’s chairman, retired Judge Abeyratne, and is a ‘disgraced member of the judiciary who blatantly interfered with it.  With its back against the wall the President issued a gazette notice last week calling upon the tri forces to maintain public order.


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