The head of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka is now calling on the Australian government to support an independent investigation into the allegations, a call backed by Melbourne woman Chathudilla Weerasinghe, who survived the attack on Colombo’s Kingsbury hotel.
“They should carry out an investigation … because there were so many blasts on the date — similar timings, coordinated – it has to be a major planned-out thing,” Ms Weerasinghe said.
In September, the UK’s Channel 4 aired claims by a former government aide, Asad Maulana, that a top intelligence official met with members of the terrorist group National Thowheed Jam’ath (NTJ) as part of an alleged plot to help former Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa win government by creating a national security crisis from the attacks.
Now, the former head of the investigation into the bombings has spoken out for the first time about what he claims was political interference which derailed the police probe.
Former deputy inspector general of police Ravi Seneviratne said his team was taken off the case when Mr Rajapaksa took office six months after the bombings.
Mr Seneviratne told ABC Investigations that his lead investigator was removed without explanation “immediately after the new government was elected — at the time, not even a prime minister or the cabinet had been appointed”.
He said over the months that followed, 22 more officers were removed from the investigation, “but I was not given any reason for any of those transfers”.
The incoming government also imposed an overseas travel ban on more than 700 Criminal Investigation Department officers under Mr Seneviratne’s command.
Mr Seneviratne said this was seen as a bid to intimidate police who might investigate allies of the Rajapaksa regime.
“This was quite illegal,” Mr Seneviratne said.
“Because of this action, many officers were scared. Some officers even sought transfers because they didn’t want to work there any longer.”
Police charged more than 90 people in connection with the Easter Sunday attacks, but Mr Seneviratne said investigators hit roadblocks when they found “some intelligence officers had links with the Muslim group”.
One of these was unearthed with help from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, which traced regular communications with the NTJ terrorists to an Internet Protocol address used by a secret military intelligence operative.
Mr Seneviratne has claimed that military intelligence officers also visited the house of one suicide bomber on the morning of the attacks but did not share this information with police.
“On such occasions, when we tried to question certain individuals and groups, we faced some obstacles,” Mr Seneviratne said.
Sri Lankan intelligence agencies twice stopped police from questioning associates of the suicide bombers on the grounds they were involved in national security operations, he said.
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