Culprits will be severely punished - Johnston | Daily News
Easter Sunday Terror Attacks:

Culprits will be severely punished - Johnston

Unmasking of real culprits responsible for the Easter Sunday Terror Attacks will take place gradually once the judicial process gets underway, Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said yesterday.

Addressing the media after a meeting held at his Ministry, Minister Fernando said that the judicial process would help identify the persons who aided and abetted the terror attacks and also those who had shirked their duties putting National Security in jeopardy.

“The Presidential Commission Report into the Easter Sunday Terror Attacks has made recommendations and suggested that legal action be taken. Once that process commences the culpability of those who committed offences as well as those who deliberately failed in their duties in acting to prevent the disaster will be made known,” he said.

“If some of those in the Opposition think that criticising the Presidential Commission or trying to find loopholes in the Report would exonerate them from their crimes, they are mistaken,” Minister Fernando said. The Minister said that he was also a member of the Cabinet Sub Committee appointed to study in depth the facts and recommendations on the course of action contained in the Final Report of the PCoI into the Easter Sunday Terror Attacks.

The Minister said that the main task of the Cabinet Sub Committee headed by former Speaker and Minister Chamal Rajapaksa was to study in-depth the findings and recommendations contained in the PCoI report and to advice on the next course of action. The Committee also comprised Ministers Udaya Gammanpila, Prasanna Ranatunga and Rohitha Abeygunawardena.

“We studied the report on the Easter Sunday Terror Attacks at length and have identified 78 recommendations. We thereafter submitted a report to the President outlining how those recommendations are to be implemented and which agencies are implementing them,” he added.

“Since the day the Presidential Commission of Inquiry completed its investigations, Opposition members shouted and demanded that the report be released. Since the day it was released, the Opposition again demanded that it be tabled in Parliament. Since the day that has been done, they are making various allegations about the process of the PCoI and about the contents of the Report. Yet it seems that they have forgotten who is responsible for the incident that needed to be investigated by the PCoI. In the first place, it was the mistakes and wrongdoings of the then Government of which the present Opposition Leader was a member that gave way for the Easter Sunday Terror Attacks.

“These vociferous leaders now in the Opposition were not seen when the country was facing anarchy soon after the Easter Sunday Terror Attacks. While there was no leader, it was Archbishop His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith who came forward and appealed to the people to desist from possible violence and prevent another bloodbath in this country. The nation must be thankful to him for his brave action on that day. I do not think that they could just escape from their wrongdoing by changing their name from the UNP to SJB and shifting from the 'Elephant' symbol to the 'Telephone' symbol. They placed the country’s National Security in jeopardy by making structural changes in the Police to form special units and divisions such as the FCID to suppress their political opponents,” Minister Fernando added.

“There had been Five Secretaries to the Ministry of Defence within a period of four years. Such was the time before the Easter Sunday Terror Attacks took place. The Yahapalana Government had the chance to investigate the April 21 terror attacks. They too appointed Committees including a Parliamentary Select Committee. What were their results? Instead of finding those responsible for this heinous crime, the PSC summoned the intelligence officials before it further compromising the country's National Security.

“Those now accusing the PCoI of failing to identify the masterminds of the attacks were in that PSC then. Why could they not make such identifications? Did the Yahapalana Government implement at least a single recommendation made by that PSC?,” he asked.

“Soon after receipt of this PCoI report, the President presented it to the Cabinet and then to Parliament. A Cabinet Sub Committee was appointed to make further suggestions on the implantation of the PCoI recommendations. We have completed those tasks and now all is set for the judicial process which will unmask the wrongdoers and offenders responsible for the Easter Sunday Terror Attacks,” the Minister said.