‘Indian complicity’ in Easter Sunday carnage: Sirisena must prove his accusation – GL



Prof. G.L.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Former External Affairs Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris, MP, yesterday (01) said that ex-President Maithripala Sirisena, MP, owed an explanation as to how he had reached the conclusion that India engineered the 2019 Easter Sunday carnage.

Prof. Peiris said that the former President, who had also served as the Defence Minister and head of the National Security Council (NSC) at the time of the near simultaneous suicide attacks, five years back would have to substantiate his allegation. Such a grave accusation couldn’t be based on unsubstantiated information, the former law academic said, underscoring the need to address the issues at hand with extreme caution.

The dissident SLPP MP said so responding to media query at the weekly press conference held at his Kirula Place residence.

At the onset of the briefing, Prof. Peiris said that the SLFP leader’s latest claim should be examined, keeping in mind that the presidential election was to be conducted in seven months and the Supreme Court ordered the former President to pay compensation for Easter Sunday victims to the tune of Rs 100 mn.

Lawmaker Sirisena declared in Kandy, on March 22, that he knew who masterminded the Easter Sunday carnage. The blasts, blamed on the National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ), influenced by ISIS, claimed the lives of 270 men, women and children, while over 500 received injuries. On the following day, MP Sirisena claimed that he received the relevant information three weeks earlier and the CID recorded his statement on March 25. MP Sirisena is reported to have alleged that India carried out the Easter Sunday operation.

Prof. Peiris described parliamentarian Sirisena’s claim as a serious allegation directed at a friendly neighbour that provided substantial assistance over the past several years, in addition to tipping off local intelligence about the impending terror attacks.

Pointing out that a copy of the statement provided to the CID had been made available to Attorney General Sanjay Rajaratnam, PC, Prof. Peiris said that once Sirisena appears before Maligakanda Magistrate on Thursday (April 4) consequent to the CID filing a ‘B’ report at the Maligakanda Magistrate court on the AG’s instructions, a clearer picture would emerge.

Prof. Peiris said that there is a possibility of the former President seeking to make a private statement to the Magistrate. However, the AG would have access to that statement, Prof. Peiris said, declaring that after examining all information available, Attorney General  Rajaratnam would have to decide on the best possible course of action.

Prof. Peiris said that in spite of Sirisena being the former President, in terms of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) he faced a seven-year term of imprisonment if he was found guilty of suppressing information relating to terrorist activities.

Prof. Peiris said that in the wake of the unprecedented intervention made by MP Sirisena, the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government would have to go the whole hog. According to the former Minister, the AG could take tangible measures to collect all available information and reevaluate the ongoing case at the Trial-at-Bar on the Easter Sunday carnage, in the wake of MP Sirisena’s claim.

Responding to The Island queries, Prof. Peiris pointed out that before a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) that investigated the Easter Sunday attacks and the subsequent Presidential Commission of Inquiry (P CoI), it transpired India furnished three specific warnings ahead of the attacks. Sri Lanka received the last warning one hour before the first attack, the ex-Minister said, referring to official reports at that time.

Prof. Peiris said that MP Sirisena’s recent declaration has threatened to undermine public confidence in the ongoing Easter Sunday investigations and court proceedings. Therefore, it would be the responsibility of the AG to ensure a no holds barred investigation also taking into consideration the ex-President’s bombshell but still unsubstantiated claim.