By Shamindra Ferdinando
The Attorney General’s Department owed an explanation for the acquittal of All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) leader Rishad Bathiudeen MP, a key suspect in the 2019 Easter Sunday carnage, national Jathika organizer Nidahas Peramuna (JNP ) Jayantha Samaraweera, MP, said on Thursday (03).The ACMC is a constituent party of the main opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB).
Former Minister of State asked if AG Sanjay Rajaratnam, PC, issued instructions which paved the way for Fort Magistrate Thilina Gamage to acquit Lawmaker Bathiudeen on 02 November as investigations by the Investigations Department (CID) cleared him of any involvement. Rajaratnam took over from Dappula of Livera, PC, in May 2021. Livera, who was appointed AG a week after the Easter Sunday explosions, has publicly stated that the carnage was a great conspiracy.
The Island interviewed the Kalutara District MP following his press conference at the JNP office in Pita Kotte, where the former JVPer questioned the circumstances under which the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) informed the court of first instance of the GA’s decision. Police headquarters also certainly owed an explanation as law enforcement authorities have repeatedly assured that they are investigating the former trade minister’s involvement with the perpetrators of the attack, said lawmaker Samaraweera.
ACMC leader Bathiudeen was released on bail on October 14, 2021 after being detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) for over six months. The CID arrested the Vanni District MP on 24 April 2021. Bathiudeen switched allegiance to the SJB ahead of the last general election in August 2020. In the previous parliamentary elections, the ACMC contested the UNP ticket . At the time of the Easter Sunday explosions that claimed the lives of 270 people, including some 40 foreigners, and injured more than 400 others, Bathiudeen served in the cabinet of President Maithripala Sirisena.
The MP pointed out that the magistrate of Fort announced the decision of the GA on All Saints Day, November 2, a day of prayer and remembrance for those who have left. Lawmaker Samaraweera said that in terms of instructions received from the AG, the magistrate of Fort also released the passport of the head of the ACMC. The MP said he would like to know the status of the investigation into the funding made available by the Colossus Copper factory, Wellampitiya for suicide bombers, as former police spokesman and SSP lawyer Jaliya Senaratne was on record as having declared the direct involvement of this company in the National Thowheed Jaamaat (NTJ) terrorist project.
Lawmaker Samaraweera stressed that police could not go back on statements made to the media over a period of time regarding the Easter bombing. Responding to another question, the JNP’s chief spokesman said investigations had revealed how the Colossus plant had been given privileged treatment in issuing copper by the Industrial Development Board (IDB), which was under the jurisdiction of the then Minister of Commerce, Bathiudeen, under the Yahapalana administration. Bathiudeen has served as trade minister since the time Colossus launched operations in 2012 during President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s second term, the MP said.
Lawmaker Samaraweera recalled the revelation made to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Easter Sunday carnage, how President Sirisena’s then public relations director advised the IDB to provide 500 tons of copper to Colossus. The MP said the media reported how Devika Liyanage, a Principal Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Defense also ordered the IDB to issue Colossus 1000 kilos of brass.
The Catholic Church should take up the matter under consideration, lawmaker Samaraweera said, adding that it was reviewing the matter again following the GA decision. in early 2021, MP Samaraweera said he intended to raise the issue both inside and outside parliament.
The MP noted that local spice tycoon Mohamed Yusuf Ibrahim, the father of Mohamed Ibrahim Ilham Ahmed and Mohamed Ibrahim Insaf Ahmed who blew himself up at the Shangri-La and Cinnamon Grand respectively, was released on bail in late May from This year. Ibrahim was on the JVP’s national list in the 2015 general election, MP Samaraweera said, alleging the case never came to the attention of the inquiry.
A bench of seven judges presided over by Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, PC, ruled on September 26 that Ranil Wickremesinghe could no longer be named as a defendant in the Easter Sunday human rights petitions filed by 12 parties, including the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL). President Jayasuriya’s lawyer was the AG at the time of the Easter Sunday bombings.
Alleging that the government has failed to implement P CoI recommendations regarding any of the top law enforcement officials, including State Intelligence Service (SIS) chief Nilantha Jayewardena, lawmaker Samaraweera said the AG Department should disclose how it dealt with State Attorney Malik Azeez and Deputy Solicitor General Azad Navavi in the context of the P CoI recommending disciplinary action by the Public Service Commission (PSC). The MP noted that Rishad’s brother Riyaj, also arrested in connection with the Easter Sunday carnage, had been released on bail.
The JNP official recalled how the then AG of Livera demanded an explanation from the CID at the end of 2020 when the Riyaj was released by the CID. What really happened to the investigation opened by De Livera, the deputy asked, urging the police and the AG department to be clear on the matter. MP Samaraweera said the closure of the investigation into Bathiudeen should be considered in the context of the GA and the CIABOC (Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of Bribery or Corruption) withdrew and closed dozens of high-profile cases.