Ex-SL Prez Gotabaya denies charges over Easter Sunday killings

Ex-SL Prez Gotabaya denies charges over Easter Sunday killings

Colombo: Former Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa responding to newest UK's Channel 4 TV documentary which allegedly connected him to IS-affiliated local Islamic extremists' 2019 Easter Sunday attacks, has said that the allegations were "absurd".

A day after the release of the controversial TV documentary titled "Sri Lanka's Easter Bombings" by Channel 4 which alleged coordinated explosions of six suicide bomb attacks killing over 270 and injuring over 500 both locals and foreigners at three churches and three star-class hotels intended to create insecurity and instability in the country to bring Rajapaksa to power at the 2019 elections.

Based on a series of interviews by whistleblowers and former security officials, Channel 4 claimed that the current head of Sri Lanka's Military Intelligence Maj Gen Suresh Sallay allegedly hatched a plot with the IS-affiliated group of Sri Lankan Islamic extremists to prove that the country's security was in tatters.

Interviewed by Channel 4, Azad Maulana, identified as a whistleblower and who was also the former spokesman of Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, a leader of a breakaway group of the LTTE Tamil rebel and later joined Sri Lankan government forces, said he arranged the meeting with intelligence head and the suicide bombers without knowing their final plan.

On April 21, 2019 , the morning of the Easter Sunday attacks, Sallay contacted him and asked to meet a person at the leading Indian hotel in Colombo, Taj Samudra, whom he later realised as the suicide bomber whose bomb did not detonate.

Defending the military head, Gotabaya Rajapaksa stated on Thursday that Sallay was serving as a diplomat in Malaysia from 2016 to 2018, during the period the whistleblower claimed Sallay plotted the bombings.

Rajapaksa also said from January to November 2019, intelligence head was in India following a course at India's National Defence College.

The former president claimed that 2015-2019 government ignored the Muslim extremism that was building up in the country.

In his statement, Gotabaya also said that he sought the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) assistance for the investigation after he became the President and he was communicated by Christopher A. Landberg of the Bureau of Counterterrorism, US Department of State, that the FBI had worked closely with Sri Lankan law enforcement, and in the week after the attacks, the US deployed around 33 personnel to Colombo to assist Sri Lanka's investigation.

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