Safe house used by bombers belonged to Rishad’s sister
By Buddhika Samaraweera
A house in the Wattala area, belonging to the sister of Parliamentarian Rishad Bathiudeen, had been used as a safe house by the suicide bombers who carried out the Easter Sunday bombings.
This was revealed on 21 November when Bathiudeen testified before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Easter Sunday bombings. He is currently being held in the Magazine Prison and testified via Skype.
A Senior State Counsel questioned whether he was aware that a house in the Enderamulla area in Wattala, which belongs to one of his sisters, who is currently living in Canada, had been used as a safe house by the suicide bombers. In response, the witness said that he came to know about it only after the bombings.
Adding the house had been given on rent basis, Bathiudeen said he did not know for what purpose it was given. Meanwhile, when asked if he had visited the house when the bombers were staying, the witness replied in the negative. The Commission also questioned the witness regarding the links between his two brothers, Rifkhan Bathiudeen and Riyaj Bathiudeen, with the National Thowheed Jama’ath(NTJ) leader Zaharan Hashim and other suicide bombers.
When asked if he was aware of the circumstances that led to his brother, Riyaj’s arrest, the witness said that he had been arrested on allegations of having seven telephone conversations with the bomber named Insaf Ahmed who carried out the suicide bombing at Cinnamon Grand hotel in Colombo.
"Once Insaf’s copper exports were suspended, Riyaj inquired from me about it. I looked for the reason and it was the Presidential Secretariat that had suspended the export of copper, so I told Riyaj that nothing could be done. Then Riyaj may have told Insaf about it. Also, it was Insaf who had called Riyaj on all seven occasions,” he added.
Meanwhile, when inquired about the fact that over 25,000 kilograms of copper had been given to the copper factory owned by Insaf, the witness said that he knew nothing about it. However, the Senior State Counsel said that it appeared that Bathiudeen had indirectly supported the bombers since he had signed certain documents related to the supply of copper to Insaf’s factory. In response, the witness said that it was a completely false allegation.
The Senor State Counsel further questioned the witness as to whether he knew Zaharan and Bathiudeen, in reply, said he had no connection with Zaharan. A member of the Commission then asked the witness if his two brothers knew Zaharan. I asked both of them. They also did not know Zaharan, he said.
Asked what he thought of Muslim women's clothing, such as the niqab and the burqa, Bathiudeen said it was not possible to influence anyone's dress. "As a Muslim leader, I cannot comment on that," he said.
Responding to a question by the Senior State Counsel as to whether it was not a threat to national security to allow clothing that entirely covers the body, he said that if the security forces said so, he would accept it as an issue. Any action taken as a precaution in that regard should be approved, he said.