20 September, 2021

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Black Sunday – If Sherlock Holmes Or Sir Hercule Poirot Investigated The Easter Sunday Massacre

By Basil Fernando

Basil Fernando

In answering the call of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Sri Lanka, the faithful living in various parts of the country wore black and attended church as a protest against the failure to provide justice for all those who were killed in the Easter Sunday bombings in 2019. They also participated in silent protests. This Black Sunday is a good occasion to reflect back, not only on the lives that were lost on that blackened Easter Sunday, but also on the general nature of the threats posed to human life in Sri Lanka.

All this time, the two governments, the one that was in power and the one that is in power now, have concentrated more on creating a political discourse around the Easter Sunday massacre. However, what they have completely failed to focus on is the investigation that was required for a grave crime. No amount of presidential commissions can replace the most primary requirement in dealing with crimes: the need for criminal investigations. Presidential commissions are not and cannot be the means of inquiring into a crime in terms of the criminal law. That is the task of criminal investigators.

In a modern society, the prevention of crime and the punishment for crimes that have already been taken place can happen only when there is a dedicated, competent and efficient criminal justice system. It is the investigators who could find the actual criminals who carried out these bomb attacks and the conspirators who were criminally involved.

Criminal investigations are a function of the police department. It is perhaps the most important function of a police department to have the kind of investigators that could find all the evidence that is required to reveal the facts of a crime and those who are involved in the crime. Gathering of evidence from the point of view of the criminal law and evidence law of a country is the only way by which the criminals can be found and successfully prosecuted.

The people who sit as presidential commissioners are not part of the police investigative division, nor do they have the necessary means and competence to be investigators.

Proverbially, the task of a criminal investigator is illustrated by a character like Sherlock Holmes created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Hercule Poirot by Agatha Christie. The criminal investigator uses the methods that have been developed over centuries in order to gather facts relating to a crime and thereafter to analyze these facts to arrive at conclusions about the individuals who were involved in carrying out the crime.

If the Catholic Bishops Conference of Sri Lanka and all others who are concerned with bringing the perpetrators of the bomb blasts that killed a large number of persons are to make a deeper contribution to resolving this neglected problem, their concentration should be on scrutinizing the manner in which the criminal investigations into these bomb blasts have been carried out.

If such scrutiny is carried out, one glaring fact will come to the attention of anyone concerned: that is, that something has gone radically wrong in the criminal investigative capacity of the Sri Lankan police. Whatever may be the cause of this loss of capacity for thorough and comprehensive criminal investigations leading to tangible results, the important matter now is to address the loss of this all-important capacity in order to ensure the security of people. When the policing function of criminal investigations is lost, everything is lost from the point of view of the capacity to investigate and prosecute criminals. That situation has existed in Sri Lanka for the past few decades.

When President Gotabaya speaks of security, he always refers to security in the context of conflicts, like with the LTTE, which is very different to the security that should prevail within a society in normal times. The primary agency in the times of conflict in maintaining national security is the military. However, the primary agency that is in charge of dealing with crimes, including criminal investigations, is the National Police Service. In the comments made by President Gotabaya and other leading figures in the government, there is hardly any mention of the resuscitating of the criminal investigative capacity of the Sri Lankan police.

The same could be said of the previous government also. They, too, completely neglected the development of an independent criminal investigation branch that is not dependent on the manipulations of politicians but carries out their functions only within the professional limits that are part of the philosophies and the practices relating to criminal prosecutions. In fact, in recent times, all the governments have conspired and acted continuously to undermine the criminal investigative capacity of the Sri Lankan police. 

By the end of the colonial period, and in the early years after the independence, there were very important developments and many resources were allocated in order to develop a kind of professional criminal investigative department which could stand on par with other similar institutions in other parts of the world. In fact the achievements of the criminal investigators of the time was remarkable. 

However, that is not the situation today. Among many causes that have contributed to the present state of deterioration is the manipulation of the criminal investigative departments for various political uses. Using criminal investigative powers to target political opponents or to undo and erase evidence for political reasons have affected the system badly.

The damaged criminal investigation capacity is the source from which Sri Lanka’s inability to conduct serious criminal investigations arose. That is the root that needs to be addressed by those who are demanding accountability for the crimes committed on Easter Sunday and the issue they should concentrate their efforts on. 

If that does not happen, all that will happen is a merely repetition of what has happened already during the last two years; that is, a farcical situation that does not ensure justice for the victims and survivors of this massacre. It is not only about this massacre but also about almost all serious crimes. 

The prosecutor cannot replace the functions of the investigator. If the investigator fails, all that the prosecutors could do is to make all kinds of public promises and public statements which themselves are essentially farcical in nature.

Thus, those who lost their lives in the Easter Sunday massacre have a message for all the people living in Sri Lanka now: “If the protection of life is to be guaranteed, first of all ensure that the crimes committed against us be criminally investigated and, by doing that, make the loss of our lives meaningful for the rest of the country so that similar occurrences would be prevented by the very knowledge that the country is capable of getting at any criminal of whatever orientation or inclination in the shortest possible time.”

If there was a well-functioning criminal investigation unit, it would have received information about the crime long before it would have happened. For people to trust the police, it is essential that they have a conviction that information that is given to the police will lead to inquiries and that the capacity of the investigators are such that they are capable of finding the truth. 

The paralyzed and dysfunctional criminal investigation capacity of the Sri Lankan police is the root cause of the inability to prevent serious crime.

The lives of everybody in Sri Lanka is at risk. If a serious crime happens, it would be an uphill task to get a proper complaint registered at a police station that would lead to the beginning of an investigation. It is so difficult for people to even register a proper complaint at the police stations. 

In one such incident, on a matter of attempted murder, a man who was the victim and his family made all possible attempts to get a complaint registered. Initially, the relevant police station had no interest in registering the complaint. After much pestering, when the police moved to registering the complaint, they did it so carelessly that the affected person did not want to sign that statement. Even after getting this unsatisfactory statement, police made no attempt to visit the crime scene and to do any kind of credible investigation. The man had to go to the ASP and SP many times over and over again over a few weeks and, despite of many promises, no investigation was carried out. Thereafter, he complained to the Inspector General of Police, Police Commission and Human Rights Commission. All he got was a letter from the IGP saying that his complaint will be looked into by a senior officer attached to the area where the incident took place. And when this person contacted the assigned officer, he was given a date and when he went there, the investigation into his complaint was postponed for another two months.

That incident is not an exception. That is the way things happen in Sri Lanka to almost everybody who does not have any kind of political clout if he goes to get a complaint registered at a police station.

A neglected policing system with an extremely poor criminal investigation department is what Sri Lanka has to deal with any crimes, including such horrible crimes as the Easter Sunday massacre. It would be nothing less than a joke if those concerned keep on expecting that the criminal perpetrators of this crime would be punished while the nature of the investigating mechanism that exists in Sri Lanka is in such a collapsed state.

It has become the duty of all people of goodwill, including the religious leaders, the intellectuals and everyone, to give highest priority to the demand of immediate actions on the part of the government of Sri Lanka to address the issue of serious defects of the policing system in Sri Lanka and, in particular, the serious defects in the police investigation capacity in Sri Lanka.

If that does not happen, punishing the perpetrators of the Easter Sunday massacre will be a pie in the sky dream.

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Latest comments

  • 1
    4

    Who the hell is Holmes and Parrot?

    • 5
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      Kid

      “Who the hell is Holmes and Parrot?”

      No self-respecting kid would ever ask this stupid question.

      Don’t you know how to search by googling the web?

      Sherlock Holmes
      Sherlock Holmes is a fictional private detective created by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Referring to himself as a “consulting detective” in the stories, Holmes is known for his proficiency …

      Hercule Poirot
      Fictional character
      Hercule Poirot is a fictional Belgian detective created by British writer Agatha Christie. Poirot is one of Christie’s most famous and long-running characters, appearing in 33 novels, 2 plays, and more than 50 short stories published between 1920 and 1975.

      • 1
        0

        Native,
        Those who don’t know what they don’t know……………
        Eg Channa Jayasumana.

      • 0
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        NV
        Thanks you
        You have explained this nicely within the word count of CT

        • 0
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          Whimpy Aiyo Kid

          I just did a copy and paste exercise.
          That’s all.

    • 1
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      Thanks Mr. Fernando for a very important article.
      1. The deterioration of Criminal investigation capacity is KEY to the mess in this country, so too the deterioration of National Security think tanks like the Institute for National Security Studies (INSSSL), which has failed to identify the Geopolitical dynamics and foreign hands behind the attacks must be analyzed.
      2. The dual failure of Police investigation and security and other RESEARCH institutions and NGOs to systematically analyze the Islamic State (ISIS), claimed Easter 2019 Crime, and the foreign hands that ran the Local-Global network behind the crime, is because of the phenomenon of national INSTITUTIONAL CAPTURE, (including of funded NGOs in Colombo), by external forces and networks and parties though various so called Foreign AID project to do “capacity development” and “Institutional strengthening” but essentially to capture local and national institutions.
      This situation has worsened with the digitalization of all data, which the Covid-19 panicdemic was meant to advance, enabling external parties to access data and game the system and narrative. We are in an age of Cyber War. Pl. read the book “The Perfect Weapon” to game the narrative

      • 2
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        As you rightly say: “In recent times, all the governments have conspired and acted continuously to undermine the criminal investigative capacity of the Sri Lankan police.”
        Yes indeed, it was a bi-partisan, UNP-SLFP/PP and of course SLMC, cross party corruption and collusion network with M.L.M Hizbulla of Kathankudi where Zaharan was based hitting the Saudi/US Foreign Funding for ISIS terror jackpot that enabled the Easter carnage, along with the debilitation of the Police with American MCC and USAID and Fake Human Rights advisors to puppet Ranil Wickramasinghe’s IGP – Pujith in place.
        After the Easter Carnage more than foreign intelligence agencies – CIA, Australian intel, Rand Corporation, Mossad, RAW, IB, Chinese, Russian were in the country. The CIA removed the cell phones of the bombers so their foreign contact networks could be erased. The investigation was gamed from the start by the CIA which with Saudi owns and operates the ISIS narrative to spread Islamophobia.

        • 1
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          Both the Easter Sunday carnage and the Cover Up Report was all very carefully planned by external actors.
          Easter attacks happened while the hapless clown President Sirisena was in Singapore, where Sobitha Thero who masterminded Yahapalanya regime and then realized it was a disaster was murdered.
          The American Game with UNP and SLFP/PP; US citizen Rajapakse brothers and Ranil in Sri Lanka is: “Heads I win Tails you lose”.
          2. So the failure of Easter Carnage investigations is linked both to local politicization as you have rightly identified, as well as, to many Fake foreign aid funded development projects for “institutional capacity development’, foreign “experts’ and intelligence advisors effectively capturing local institutions and the narrative. This is also visible in how the Health Institutions of the country were captured in the Covid-19 panicdemic by WHO and big Pharma to promote a fear psychosis.

  • 2
    0

    I didn’t know Hercule Poirot had been knighted. Was it done recently?

    • 1
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      I haven’t had the time to read this article. I came here wanting to make a “one-up comment” on the same lines, pointing out that Poirot was supposed to be a Belgian, “wearing patent leather shoes”. As a school-boy, I imagined that “patent leather” was superior to natural leather as a result of this particular phrase.
      .
      In those days there were no vegans to trouble our consciences. My memory is that my classmate, Rajan Hoole, also used to shovel huge quantities of beef down his gullet.
      .
      Looking above your comment now, I see that Wimpy Kid is totally mystified by all this talk!
      .
      We old buggers must talk more plainly!
      .
      You’ve been unfair by Dr Janapriya. Do you remember him turning Oscar Wilde into a Frenchman?

      • 0
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        S.M,
        I suspect that it’s CT, not Basil, that knighted Poirot.

  • 5
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    Basil Fernando,
    I am afraid your analysis does not go into the root causes why we have a dysfunctional police investigating mechanism. You don’t look at the historical degradation of the police force, their methods and investigation system. Today the police force is well known to part of the criminal enterprise in Sri Lanka.
    You cannot analyze a problem starting with a recent massacre of Catholics and others by extremists.
    As a Tamil I grew up in Sri Lanka and I know that rule of law started failing from 1956 when Sinhalese thugs were let loose on protesting Tamils. The Sri Lankan state and the rulers did not take action to bring the criminals to justice in several pogroms against Tamils since then.
    The same injustice was meted out to Sinhalese youth on suspicion of being JVP cadres.
    Your analysis like that of many Sinhalese writers who try to make the world believe that the ethnic problem started with the advent of LTTE: In fact it started just after independence by the first government by D S Senanayake and his actions determent to Tamils.
    You cannot have rule of law for one segment of the society, i.e, the Sinhalese and not for others.

    • 3
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      Thiru, ethnic problem/s started long before 1948. By 1948 Ceylon was one of the richest countries in South Asia with an efficient police force. But this impression is deceptive and incomplete

      Colonial divide and rule policies had left simmering tensions. Any Ceylonese who wanted to get anywhere had to have a western education and know English. Recruitment policies favoured Tamils, Christians and Burghers. In 1872 half of the first batch of doctors from the new Colombo Medical College were Tamil. By 1885 300 out of 819 schools were in the Jaffna peninsula. This was because Hindus were considered more easily convertible to Christianity than Buddhists. All this resulted in more than 54% of the positions in the Civil Service being held by minorities.

      Another factor was the tea estates. The Sinhalese refused to work on them. Tamils, Burghers Muslims etc also refused to work on them. The British imported semi-slave labour from India resulting in 12% of the population being Indian (1911).

      So there was this constant warping, twisting, deforming of the Sinhala nation, just to make money and spread Christianity.

      You can imagine that the majority rural Sinhala Buddhist population felt antagonised and marginalised in their own country. On top of which they were subject to increasing taxes to compensate for the loss of exports in the mid 19th century.

      • 1
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        Cont’d Further, by destroying the monarchy the British dissolved the symbiotic relationship between the State and the Sangha which lay at the heart of rural Sinhala Buddhist life. Land owned or devoted to the Sangha was taken by the State and sold off to planters.

        Long before 1948 Sinhala nationalism began to exert itself in response. I’m sure you know of Olcott, Anagarika Dharmapala etc. And you think that after independence matters would simply continue in the same old way? After SWRD came to power the pendulum swung violently in the other direction and to the other extreme. Today we are still reaping the results.

  • 7
    1

    Sri Lanka being a poor country, most police officers do not get paid a good salary. Therefore they resort to taking bribes from people who break the law on the roads, or perhaps even at home or in an office or other workplace. Corruption is endemic in Sri Lanka. In that context, it can be reasonably argued that the criminals behind the bombing (masterminds) gave enough money or threatened the investigators not to reveal the truth in the law courts. Therefore, no commissions of inquiry whether special, presidential or royal will be able to find out the truth or punish the real culprits. Classical crime investigators want to find out who would have directly or indirectly benefitted from the crime. have such people had any past association with Zahran and company? None of this will come out easily. This is now clear from the thousands of pages of nonsense that are produced with tax payer money. The people in general are stupid and will eventually forget this episode, just like many others which have gradually faded into distant memories, while grand criminals strut about like paragons of virtue.

    • 1
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      Lasantha Petiyagoda: Good thoughts for “FUTURE”. The task at hand at the moment is to bring ALL – (irrespective of status) who “Neglected” on the assigned DUTIES and RESPONSIBILITIES to Justice. Is there a problem with that.? I don’t think so. We have ALL the information and facts from a “Select Committee” of Parliament and now a Presidential Commission. Would, we not act immediately, if a Public Official of a lower level acted “Willfully” (I say willful because the information was available months and days before the incident) in the “Negligence” of his/her “Responsibilities” and “Duties”? There is no time to waste. Must act fast to bring the culprits to book. That is fair by the “Perished” and the “Survivors” of this “Massacre”.

    • 0
      2

      In that context, it can be reasonably argued that the criminals behind the bombing (masterminds) gave enough money or threatened the investigators not to reveal the truth in the law courts. A senseless talk to laundry the Aanduwa’s kingpin-ship in planning, organizing and staging. Who is that Modaya included Pulasthini’s name in house members’ dead list. Is he still in rapist police or Army service? Isn’t that means the list was pre-pared by those who bombed the house? Can you explain why did they arrested and kept without inquiry a Tamil poor man who was father of five tiny hungry stomachs, to the Vaharai bridge guards’ killing? Isn’t it because you all the Sinhala Intellectuals like to concoct & hear something that “LTTE did it”? What a shameless satisfaction you all get in “Kottiya did it”! Are you going to correct yourselves or live like that & destroy the Sinhala Community?
      Please accept Bombing was threat against UNHRC continuing asking Lankawe for War Crime Investigation and to bring Royals to power, to get out of the Resolution 30/1. How many times you have so far written in Sinhala or English media that Communist Dinesh withdrawal from Resolution 30/1 is only a show and it had no effect on getting released Lankawe out of War Crime Investigation? Why are you also fooling the Sinhala Modayas?

    • 1
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      Dr. Lasantha Pethiyagoda
      .
      For once I marked a ‘thumb down’ to you.
      .
      In constructing your own theory always keep in mind that the bombs were not triggered by remote control – the perpetrators blew themselves to smithereens in whole families in the exercise.
      .
      This is such a significant issue bound with such a level of trauma and sorrow and loss. To utilize it for settling political scores is being infinitely disrespectful and unsympathetic towards the victims.
      .
      To theorise that those who benefited must be the perpetrators is a another childish endeavor. There can be any number of situations where total outsiders are extremely benefited. Failure of a government highlighted with exaggerated propaganda could always benefit the opposition.
      Next time someone will say second wave of Corona virus was a devilish plan of SJB.

      Soma

  • 5
    2

    USS Spruance an carriers with 6000 men and aircraft was stationed outside Hambantota to enter Sri Lanka under the pretext of helping and never leave, It needed authorization to enter an sovereign nation. Easter Sunday was a false flag attack instigated by the devil trio of American, Indian and Saudi intelligence

  • 1
    1

    It is shame for a senior activist like Basil Fernando to put the blame on the dysfunctional CID & Police department (they are dysfunctional) and then cover up the Rowdy Aanduwas who are doing every crime in the Island. Please tell me who was sitting in the air conditioned room and wrote the law exam? Then can you call pigs as lawyers? Even country’s most famous constitutional lawyer Jayampathy is an exam cheater. What happened to the arrested criminal Mathush Mahandrea, who was brought from Dubai? Are you blaming the Interpol or Dubai police that they didn’t do the job? Where is the CJ who was standing on the Road, without pants and shouting that he was the one bailed out the criminal robbed 800 M from Hambantota Help to make him as the EP. Are you blaming police department for that? Why CJ Shiranee could not stop Divineguma Act, latter Younger Brother Prince swindled in millions from it?

    Unless the strange spices called Sinhala Intellectuals become human being, a body called government cannot be formed in the Island. Then nobody will have freedom; there won’t be any Law and Order. Dear Basil, the horse has bolted the stable. No points in your guide the people to look for the horse inside the stable. Tell them to go outside, out of the yard, and search for justice there.

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