Stern Action Against Irresponsible Officials a Must!
Attorney General Dappula de Livera recently stated that releasing suspect Riyaj Bathiudeen in the face of incomplete investigations into last year’s Easter Sunday attacks is an unacceptable move.
The Attorney General had made this statement after a meeting held with the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). Attorney General de Livera also wrote to the DIG on the importance of conducting further inquiries into the Easter Sunday attacks, as well as the involvement of suspect Bathiudeen in the attacks. In addition, the Attorney General had ordered the DIG of the CID to submit a complete investigative report in this connection, within 30 days.
The release of former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen’s brother, Riyaj Bathiudeen, caused a huge public opposition during the past few days, especially due to the number of allegations levelled against him concerning the Easter Sunday attacks that took the lives of hundreds of people and injured scores.
Even though law enforcement authorities previously claimed that Bathiudeen was arrested based on adequate reasons, later it was stated that concrete proof was not found to corroborate the allegations levelled against Bathiudeen and he was therefore released.
In addition, following Bathiudeen’s release, several prominent politicians of the Government also emphasised that even though Bathiudeen was released for the time being, he would be arrested again without a hesitation, should a need arises during investigations into the Easter Sunday attacks. Also, several politicians stated that the Government has not entered into any agreement with either Riyaj Bathiudeen or Rishad Bathiudeen.
During the above-mentioned meeting, the Attorney General had further charged that the CID had appointed an inexperienced officer to probe the connections of Riyaj Bathiudeen to the Easter Sunday attacks, and that this officer is not familiar with the provisions contained in Sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. He also alleged that the CID had failed to conduct a detailed investigation into wealth, properties, vehicles and bank accounts owned and accrued by Riyaj Bathiudeen, and that the CID had failed to probe as to how Bathiudeen had financed extremist and terrorist activities.
Following the Attorney General directing the Police to investigate the release of Riyaj Bathiudeen, the Police have deployed two teams comprising 60 officers with special investigative skills, under the supervision of two Senior DIGs and one ASP, to look into the circumstances pertaining to his release.
It would not be wrong to state that the spate of bombings carried out by religious extremists on 21 April, the Easter Sunday last year, was the biggest catastrophe Sri Lankans faced after the decade-long war between the LTTE militants and the Government. Following the attacks, the Government took various steps to find the culprits behind the Easter Sunday attacks and all those who abetted them. Allegations were levelled against various parties, including politicians, religious leaders, public officials as well as certain law enforcement officials. Allegations were also levelled against former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen and his brother Riyaj Bathiudeen, for allegedly abetting the culprits of the Easter Sunday attacks, among other allegations.
There were also media reports about a voice tape which includes information to suggest that Rishad Bathiudeen tried to exert influence on officers, who were conducting investigations into his brother Riyaj Bathiudeen. This tape is said to include all information about how Rishad Bathiudeen spoke daily to officers conducting investigations on his brother Riyaj Bathiudeen and in addition how he met heads of the Criminal Investigation Department and spoke to them about his brother.
The Easter Sunday attacks are one of the most discussed topics in the country, not only due to the magnitude of the destruction it brought upon Sri Lankans. It is special due to the fact that it happened despite several forewarnings from local and foreign intelligence agencies. The Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing the Easter Sunday attacks is also conducting probes in a bid to find out how rulers and authorities let this tragedy take place despite prior information, while law enforcement authorities are trying to find out how religious extremists carried out an attack of this nature.
All Sri Lankans are waiting for the Government to find out the true culprits and prosecute them. As a matter of fact, it is one of the reasons why people voted for the current President and the Government. In this context, law enforcement officials neglecting their duties when investigating suspects arrested over the Easter Sunday attacks, is not only damaging to the Government’s efforts, but also disappoints people demanding justice. To prevent the recurrence of lapses of this nature, authorities must take stern action against responsible officials who hindered these investigations and instead find skilled officials.