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Sri Lanka allowed free and fair investigation into 2019 Easter Sunday bombings: President Wickremesinghe

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Colombo, Mar 31 (PTI) Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe said that the government has allowed a free and fair investigation for the independent execution of justice in the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings, as Christians across the country held the Easter Sunday services in a calm atmosphere but under tight security.

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The churches across Sri Lanka were placed under a security blanket on Sunday, police said.

Police spokesman Nihal Thalduwa said 6,522 police officers, over 300 police special task force officers and 2,746 military personnel have been deployed to provide security at 1,873 churches.

In 2019, over 270 people, including 11 Indians, were killed when suicide bombers belonging to the local Islamist extremist group National Thawheed Jamaat (NTJ) linked to ISIS carried out a series of blasts that tore through three churches and as many luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on the Easter Sunday.

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Although thousands of suspects have been held since then no one has been tried in court to date.

The catholic church in the Buddhist-majority country remains unhappy over the investigations which they have branded as a political cover-up to protect the powerful who could have masterminded the attack.

President Wickremesinghe, the then-prime minister, in his Easter Sunday message, stressed that the government had allowed free and fair investigation for the independent execution of justice.

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“That dark memory would never be erased off our minds," Wickremesinghe said.

The then government headed by President Maithripala Sirisena was accused of negligence of pre-intelligence received on the attacks.

Sirisena was found guilty of negligence by the panel appointed by him to probe the attacks.

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Later, he was ordered to pay Sri Lankan rupee 100 million to the relatives of the victims of the attack as compensation. He has so far paid only a part of it.

The investigations in the case took a new turn last week when Sirisena revealed that he was aware of the masterminds behind the attacks.

The police recorded his statement while the magistrate court asked him to appear before it on April 4 to make a court statement over his public comment. PTI Corr NSA ZH NSA NSA

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