| 2 October 2023, Monday |

Sri Lanka’s President orders probe into 2019 Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s president stated on Sunday that an inquiry would be launched into accusations made by a British television documentary that his current intelligence director was complicit in the country’s bloodiest attack on civilians.

Ranil Wickremesinghe announced the appointment of a former Supreme Court judge to investigate allegations that Suresh Sallay, the chief of the State Intelligence Service (SIS), coordinated the Easter Sunday assaults in 2019.

The documentary shown this week included a political insider accusing Sallay of collaboration in the bombings of three churches and three hotels by Islamist extremists, which killed 279 people, including 45 foreigners.

“As the nation grapples with the legacy of this tragic event, President Wickremesinghe’s actions represent a determined effort to uncover the truth and ensure accountability in the face of grave allegations,” his office stated in a statement.

It stated that the new inquiry’s conclusions will be sent to a legislative body for action.

Wickremesinghe’s announcement of a fresh local investigation falls short of calls from the island’s Catholic church for an independent international inquiry.

The alleged involvement of local intelligence operatives in the attacks has already been raised in Sri Lankan courts, but no one has been prosecuted.

Several local investigations into the attacks found authorities had failed to act on warnings from an Indian intelligence agency 17 days before the bombings that an attack was imminent.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has also urged an independent investigation with international help to establish the “full circumstances” of the bombings.

Britain’s Channel 4 network said Sallay was linked to the Easter Sunday bombers and wanted to destabilize Sri Lanka to clear the way for the return to power of the Rajapaksa family, two members of which have served as president.

The spy chief told Channel 4 that he was not in the country at the time of the bombings.

However, his former boss, field marshal Sarath Fonseka, has told parliament that Sallay travelled using several passports.

Two days after the attacks, Gotabaya Rajapaksa said he was entering the fray to defeat Islamist extremists.

Gotabaya went on to win the presidential poll held seven months later and Sallay was named as head of the SIS.

Gotabaya stepped down in July last year after months of public protests over an unprecedented economic crisis that led to shortages of food, fuel and medicines.

Wickremesinghe was elected by parliament to stand in for the balance of Gotabaya’s term but retained Sallay as intelligence chief.

  • alarabiya