Maithripala’s belated claim boomerangs on him

View(s): 432


  • Easter blast fallout after he says he knows who the mastermind is

M aithripala Sirisena is no stranger to controversies. Neither does he fight shy of springing surprises on an unsuspecting nation in the same way he set fire to his father’s paddy field to avenge receiving from him a knock or two on the head in early life to direct him to the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, it also seems to have had a side effect in turning him into a potential loose missile, liable to veer off course at any given time.

A man who can break egg hoppers with his leader at night and sell him down the Kelanie at morn to seize the presidential crown, and, four years later, brazenly violate all constitutional norms and appoint him as his prime minister, has to be quite a slippery slimy electric eel in the political billabong with a tendency to shock.

WHAT’S HIS GAME? Can Maithripala’s claim to know the Easter blast mastermind be simply waved off?

So what is Maithri’s game? That’s the question that must be initially posed following his bombshell revelation—exactly a week before Good Friday—that he knows the identity of the mastermind behind Easter Sunday’s blasts, the explosive news being casually tossed to mediamen while strolling to his vehicle after ceremonially opening the new Dhamma Hall at the Asgiriya Gedige Temple last Friday.

In a voice cut, he said: ‘We know from where the Easter Sunday attack came from. All the terrorists that have been caught have been caught by me and are on trial today before a tribunal of justices appointed by me. That is correct. Apart from this, no one has yet revealed the real mastermind who actually did it. But I know who did it.’

Maithripala’s shock announcement to be the sole repository of the nation’s long-sought answer to its long-standing mystery, did not leave the people clamouring to know the secret identity of the Easter blast mastermind. Instead, it left the public wondering, what was his game?  What the devil was he up to? What diabolical mischief lay hidden up his sleeve this time?

The outrage that swiftly followed targeted his abject failure to reveal the skeleton he had long kept hid in his closet to public gaze. Condemnation and calls for his arrest for withholding vital information regarding those behind the Easter carnage, came from all quarters.

They demanded he be arrested under section 5 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act which states that any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that any person has committed a terrorist offence shall report the same to a police officer.  If he fails to do so, he risks 7 years in jail.

Seems former President Maithripala Sirisena, who’s already been found guilty of negligence in January last year by a Supreme Court bench of seven justices, for his failure to take preventive action to avert the Easter Sunday tragedy, and ordered to pay Rs. 100 million to the victims, is, though once bitten, not twice shy to court the law’s criminal provisions as well to visit him for selfishly hoarding the dark secret all to himself.

Not that he is unwilling or miserly to share it with another. Good Lord no, not in the least, but it has to be a judge who’ll have to agree to hear his secret in strictest confidence, akin to a Catholic priest hearing a confession in the confession box with the guarantee it will not escape the confessional.

In his voice cut given to the media last Friday, he also said: ‘If the courts request me or orders me to make a statement regarding this, I am prepared to say who did it; and it will be the responsibility of the judge to also keep it a secret.’

Keep it secret? And become part of the great Easter Sunday cover up? A cover-up in a carnage that claimed 270 and maimed over 500 while in prayer at churches or holidaying at 5 star hotels? Where the mastermind’s name is known to a judge with lips sworn to secrecy, the mastermind himself will be left to roam free? Since no investigations can be done nor can any arrest be made without breaking the confidentiality pact with Maithri?

In what fantasy world does Maithripala wander in without a moral compass to believe he can dictate terms to the judicial bench and make a sitting judge adhere to his pre-condition to utmost secrecy?

The day following his Friday voice cut, he addressed a news conference and said an unnamed person had given him the information three weeks ago. The explanation he gave was that he had not announced that he alone in the world knew of the mass murderer, to gain any political mileage during the heat of the election year.

He said: ‘As I said yesterday, it was to convey to the judges a piece of confidential information. In view of the Easter bomb cases before court today, it was to provide some assistance to judges so that they could be aware in their minds, to give them some awareness of the case.’

God forbid, is this an insidious attempt to secretly influence judges behind closed doors? As if the courts lay in darkness, with judges groping in the unknown until Lanka’ Sherlock Holmes, with pipe filled with inside info gleaned from mystery source, stepped forth to shed light and banish ignorance from court proceedings, and make judges, though steeped in learning,  truly realise for their own edification, who was actually behind Easter Sunday’s bomb blast

Good gosh. Could this be the answer to the Cardinal’s prayer last Easter, brought home to his pulpit on the fifth anniversary of the carnage? Last year in his Easter message, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith had bemoaned: ‘Nor the Easter attacks. How many years? Four years. Still no justice. Still no one knows what happens.’

Now there is one who claims he knows, a secret so terrible that it’s not for anyone to hear but only for a judge’s ear and with an assurance it will not pass his lip. A terrible secret which, if revealed to the public, it may rain disaster and death on family. As he told reporters last Saturday, ‘If I say it in open court, my family may be wiped out.’

Was Maithri the receptacle wherein truth lay? Has he come like a penitent, seeking atonement for his negligent failure to avert the Easter tragedy which happened under his presidential watch?  Or is this another instance of the mysterious ways of Providence in answering beseeching prayers?

Unlike the church, the courts do not function on Hail Mary’s and faith but on solid evidence. Justice must be seen to be done, and thus it’s not dispensed in the night of darkness — shrouded in secrecy — but in the light of day. If his secret has to be kept locked up, it will not serve any compelling public interest. Maithripala might as well have shared it with his agony aunt, for whatever therapeutic value it might privately afford him to sedate his guilt-stricken mind.

However, it has made him ‘man of the moment’. Like he fleetingly was in October 2018, when, ten days before he sacked Ranil as Prime Minister in a constitutional coup d’état on October 26, he accused India’s RAW agency of plotting to assassinate him.  Nothing came of it though, except a man was arrested but later acquitted by court in February 2019.

As for the present case, and the MPs’ demand for his prosecution, Maithri is bound to have planned his exit to safe terrain should it come to the worst. He could simply say, though he thought at first he had reasonable cause to believe, further reflection showed he hadn’t. He had been fed a red herring. His informant had misled him to wrongly believe he had reasonable cause. Can one be convicted for possessing a wrong belief, especially if it hadn’t harmed a soul?

On Monday, he gave a statement to the CID, No one knows its contents. On Thursday, the Maligakanda Magistrate ordered him to appear before her court on April 4th and tender a statement. Since the mystery is now before court, it will be interesting to see how it unravels.

Maithripala also said last Friday that he was elected in 2015 to take the country to a good positon but he was prevented from doing it. ‘With the introduction of the 19th Amendment, I gladly gave up certain presidential powers. I never thought they would be exploited by those to whom they passed. Both opposition and government parties united to attack me. Then came the Easter Sunday’s bomb blasts’, he said.

In his confession to the media of being ‘more sinned against than sinning’, can be found the basic ingredients necessary to concoct a new yarn for a work of fiction on the conspiracy to oust him from office. If he needs an international element to rival Gota’s book, the alleged Indian ‘assassination’ plot, would do nicely.

The problem is that, like Gota’s, Maithri’s coin of credibility has become so debased that, even if he’s telling the truth, none believe him.

Bodu Bala leader Gnanasara jailed for Islamic hate speechTwelve years ago the newly formed Bodhu Bala Sena held its inaugural convention at the BMICH and unleashed from its steps the beasts of bigotry to create religious havoc in a nation, slowly emerging from a thirty-year racial war with Tamil Tiger terrorists.The mission: Religious extremism. The target: The Muslims. The justification: Protecting Buddhism against all infidels. The means: Terror and intimidation.Creating a false impression that Buddhism was under threat from the Muslim community, a new spectre was born to instill fear into Sinhala hearts. The call to arms to defend the Triple Jewels was made in July 2012 from the BMICH. Protected by the political patronage of the Rajapaksas, it enjoyed immunity from prosecution to spread communal and religious discontent in the nation. 

RETRIBUTION: Bodu Bala boss jailed for four years

Its leader, a brawny, foul-mouthed Buddhist monk, Galaboda Gnanasara, was catapulted to national prominence and given virtual licence to peddle his message of Muslim hate, to rouse chauvinistic torrid passions and make the people march to the beat of a jingoistic drum in the name of protecting Buddhism.  During Beruwela’s religious riots in 2014, he warned:  ‘If a Sinhalese is even touched, no Muslim will be spared.’ As long as he advanced the agenda of his political masters, he was given full rein

But the coming of the Yahapalana Government in 2015 abruptly ended his immunity. Legal action filed against him in 2016 for a hate speech against Islam, came up for judgement in the courts this week. On Thursday, the Colombo High Court sentenced him to four years hard labour in jail.

This will not be his first time behind bars. In August 2018 he was sentenced by the Appeal Court to 6 years in jail for contempt of court. But exactly a month after the Easter blasts, he was granted pardon by President Sirisena on May 21, 2019 and released to the hustings fray. His freedom was timely. It came six monthly before Gotabaya became president and he was back in the saddle, ready to ride again.

During Gota’s regime, he was even appointed in 2021 to Head the Presidential Task Force and asked to draft an Act to implement the ‘One Country, One Law’ concept. But his promising career as a skilled legal draftsman was cut short in midflight with Gota fleeing the country.  All he can do now is to ’do porridge’ in jail.

But this time there’ll be no hope for Gnanasara that a presidential hand will grant him early release. He had thrown to the winds the vile seeds of religious hate, and now for him, the hour has arrived to reap in full the whirlwind. On the pretext of saving Buddhism – the only religion over which no single war has been fought – he heinously transgressed the Buddhist creed and foully spat on the Buddha’s doctrine of ahimsa towards all living beings.

Today, the political clime has changed. No longer does the mood prevail to make a people fall for calls to arms made by pseudo religious cults nor make them heed, in patriotic name, another bellicose sham lion’s roar. As an ordained Buddhist monk, Gnanasara should know best, there’s no armour against one’s karmic fate.