In a new twist to the Easter Sunday bombing case, a former CID director told the Sri Lanka Supreme Court that the country’s top intelligence services actively prevented criminal investigators closing in on the Easter Sunday bombers.
A former director Sri Lanka’s criminal investigations department (CID) set the cat among the pigeons by saying that evidences were planted by military and civilian intelligence operatives to mislead the department’s investigations into the Easter Sunday bombings.
The former investigation department’s boss, Shani Abeysekara told the Supreme Court on Saturday that on several occasions, intelligence operatives misled criminal investigators chasing suspects by planting “evidence” in the run up to the bombings in April 2019.
The Easter Sunday bombings had shaken the nation. Abeysekara said that on a number of occasions, “national security” imperatives were invoked to block enquiries by investigators.
Abeysekara presented himself to the court in a bid to stop the police from arresting him for dereliction of duties by not intervening on time to stop the bombings. He had earlier been in police custody for 10 months until his release by a court of appeals. The court severely castigated the police for the unlawful arrest.
The case threatens to unwrap a pack of lies to spread Islamophobia for political ends by the country’s ruling party, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna.
The Easter Sunday left 269 dead and more than 500 injured. While Sri Lanka’s Christian community still awaits justice, the island nation’s Muslims are reeling from the bombing’s backlash, facing restrictions in social and public life.
Framed to mislead
According to Abeysekara, the directorate of military intelligence (DMI) and the state intelligence service (SIS) the government’s two primary intelligence wings had previous also framed Tamil-speaking men in the murder case of two police constables in November 2018.
He said that military intelligence led investigators astray with a concocted story of the wife of one of the policemen being in an extra-marital relationship with one of the murderers. He said that if that investigation had not been misled, the involved persons would have been apprehended well in time, thereby pre-empting the Easter Sunday bombings.
Similarly, the SIS planted a jacket on a purported motorcyclist. In both cases, the investigators were put on a wild goose chase by the intelligence agencies.
Filing a fundamental rights petition against his imminent arrest on a new charge that he neglected to investigate the Vavunathivu murders which were a precursor to the Easter Sunday bombings, Abeysekara listed how the intelligence units collaborated to divert attention from Islamic extremists.
The DMI gave four reports on December 5, 8, 14 and January 3, 2019 making a case that the murders of the two constables were committed by ex-LTTE men as retaliation for police blocking a Tiger war memorial in November 2018.
The DMI had suggested that an extra marital affair one of the victims had with a married woman had resulted in her husband getting an ex-LTTE cadre to kill the constable. Subsequently, the DMI went as far as to name the ex-LTTE men who were allegedly responsible for the killings. But, they turned out to be innocent.
National security a ruse
Similarly, Abeysekara said that the SIS chief had tipped off the CID about a motorcycle jacket said to have been worn by one of the men who killed the two police constables. Later it turned out that the “evidence” had been planted.
He said that “national security” secrecy provisions had also been invoked to prevent the CID questioning an SIS operative called ‘Sonic-Sonic’ who had been communicating with a suspect.
Abeysekara told the court that he was told by a top SIS official “not to proceed with the said interrogation”, which, the official said was art of covert operation connected to national security.
Politicians and Sinhalese nationalists have used the Easter Sunday attacks to justify their actions against Muslims. Sentiments have been stirred and businesses owned by Muslims were reportedly targeted in the aftermath through disinformation campaigns.
The targeting of Muslims by religious leaders of the majority Sinhala community have led to exacerbated religious tensions in the country. This suits the politics of the
South Asian nation and risk alienating large portions of the community.
Image: Inter Press Service