Final report on Easter attacks next month | Sunday Observer
PCoI to conclude proceedings on December 22

Final report on Easter attacks next month

20 December, 2020

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) on the Easter Sunday attacks will conclude proceedings on December 22. The Commission will hear evidence from former Kurunegala Teaching Hospital Doctor Mohamed Shafi Shihabdeen on its final day. The PCoI was appointed on April 21, 2019 by former President Maithripala Sirisena to probe the Easter Sunday terror attacks in Sri Lanka which killed nearly 300 and maimed and injured over 500. The final report of the Commission's findings will most likely be ready to be presented to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in January 2021, Commission sources said.

On Thursday (17), Dr. Shihabdeen made a statement for nearly five hours at the police unit of the Easter Sunday Commission. He will appear before the Commission on Tuesday (22) to give evidence before its members. He is expected to be grilled on claims made by former SSP, Kurunegala, Mahinda Dissanayake who was in charge of the investigations against Dr. Shafi when the doctor was accused of forcibly sterilising women under his care.

The SSP had testified before the PCoI that on the day that Dr. Shafi was released on bail, former Minister Rishad Bathuideen had called and inquired, “Are you happy now, are you healthy? Are you safe in the area?” This statement led to suspicion as to whether former Minister Bathuideen was involved in granting bail to Dr. Shafi. When asked whether he was aware that Dr. Shafi had a connection with the former Minister the SSP said: “I read in the media that it was stated in the testimony of Kurunegala District DIG Kithsiri Jayalath who had previously testified before the PCoI regarding our investigations.

On the instructions of the DIG, as the SSP in charge of the Kurunegala Division, I conducted investigations on Dr. Shafi Shihabdeen’s case and it was revealed that former Minister Bathuideen had connections with Dr. Shafi. Following the Easter Sunday attacks, unrest broke out in the Kurunegala district. Information was received about a private medical centre owned by Dr. Shafi, said to be funded by Indians and Pakistanis of Arab descent. It was revealed that millions of rupees had been transferred from Dr.Shafi’s accounts in a very short period. When we questioned the doctor, he said not to talk about it. This aroused suspicion as to where the money came from and who used it. Later he was accused of performing infertility surgeries. By that time he had carried out about 8,000 Caesarean sections. The matter was submitted to Court on May 22, 2019 under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and Dr. Shafi was arrested on suspicion. The DIG and I were transferred during the course of the investigation”, he said.

Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has continuously called to expedite investigations on the Easter Sunday attacks and expressed disappointment at the lack of progress.