In case the local justice fails, the prelate wants the International Criminal Court in The Hague to intervene. The Sri Lankan government is already under UN pressure over its handling of the conflict with Tamil separatists. Victims’ families back the cardinal’s initiative.
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith has called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks.
On 21 April two years ago, suicide bombers targeted three churches – two Catholic and one Protestant – and three hotels in different parts of the country. The blasts killed 280 people, including 45 foreigners, and wounded almost 600.
The responsibility for the attacks has not yet been determined. Then President Maithripala Sirisena first blamed Islamic extremists, then international drug traffickers trying to retaliate against his government for its actions against the drug trade.
The only thing that is certain is that the authorities had intelligence information before the attacks, but ignored it.
The findings from the official government investigation were handed over to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on 1 February.
Cardinal Ranjith, who has not yet seen the document, has called for the International Criminal Court to intervene should the local justice system fail. “The families of the victims,” he says, “want the truth.”
The Archbishop of Colombo believes that the authorities will do everything possible to avoid the involvement of international justice, noting that the government is already in the crosshair of the UN Human Rights Council over its actions during the civil war with Tamil separatists.
The families affected by the tragedy support the prelate’s initiative. “This is crucial if we do not get justice from our authorities,” Geetha Appuhamy told AsiaNews.
A Katuwapitiya resident, the mother of three lost her husband in the 2019 attacks and faces serious economic problems. “If our loved ones were still alive, our life would be happy; instead, we have to bear the burden of their loss,” she said.
The victims’ families suspect the government is trying to hide the investigation’s findings, so they want an international court to intervene.
Eva Antoinette lost a sister, a granddaughter and a brother-in-law in the attacks. She wants the culprits found and punished. Like Geetha, Eva explains that only God’s love can make her live with the pain and trauma caused by the Easter Sunday tragedy.