Holy cross

Ex-president offers to swear on Holy Cross over Easter bombing

Despite repeated allegations, Maithripala Sirisena maintained he had no prior knowledge of the 2019 attacks

Former Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena denies being deliberately hospitalized. (Photo: AFP)

Posted: Feb 28, 2022 10:20 GMT

Updated: February 28, 2022 at 10:32 GMT

Former Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena said he was ready to swear on the Holy Cross that he was never alerted to the 2019 Easter Sunday attack.

“If I had been alerted to possible attacks, I would not have left the country,” Sirisena said during an event at Mary Immaculate Church in Polonnaruwa, North-Central Province, on February 27.

He has refuted claims that he was deliberately admitted to a Singapore hospital when he knew in advance that a terrorist atrocity was likely.

“I went to Singapore Hospital for treatment,” Sirisena said while denying being alerted there while being treated in hospital.

The allegation against the former president was made by Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga, who said Sirisena should be held responsible for attacks on churches and hotels, Father Cyril Gamini said.

He said a complaint had been lodged with the Criminal Investigation Department to investigate the minister’s statement, but no action had been taken by the government.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, who is now in Rome to meet Pope Francis, has urged the government to question the former president over the Easter attack

Saduni Priyanka, a victim, said: “Sirisena is responsible as he tried to make Mahinda Rajapaksa prime minister during this period, reducing the country to a state of lawlessness.”

She said that the ex-president was responsible for the disorder in the country. Nearly three years have passed since the attacks, but there has been no justice for the dead and injured, with possible collusion between government agents and the attackers.

The Sri Lankan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, in a February 25 statement, said it had no choice but to seek international assistance as there was an attempt to hide the truth and exploit the massacre for political purposes.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, who is now in Rome to meet Pope Francis, has urged the government to question the former president over the Easter attack.

Catholic leaders have repeatedly called on the government to release the report of the commission of inquiry into the attack. After numerous requests, the presidential secretariat handed over 88 volumes containing evidence to parliament last week.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had urged the government to publish the findings of the commission of inquiry, to ensure transparency for victims and to carry out new independent investigations into the involvement of any other state or non-governmental organization. .

The 49th session of the OHCHR began today in the presence of United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Bachelet expressed concern about the lack of accountability for past human rights abuses and recognition of victims’ rights, referring to investigations related to the Easter attack as well as the hand grenade found in the church All Saints in Colombo.

Meanwhile, former Defense Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and former Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundara have been acquitted and released by a court.

They were charged with criminal negligence of duty for failing to take action to prevent the Easter attack despite receiving specific intelligence.

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