Sri Lanka’s Cardinal offers legal aid to foreign families. Can they hold the deposed ruling family accountable for the mass murders of Easter 2019?17 July 2022
David Linsey, whose younger brother and sister were killed in a suicide bombing in a hotel in Sri Lanka three years ago, has supported calls for an urgent investigation into who lay behind the terrorist attacks. He believes the collapse of the Rajapaksa family’s decades-long grip on power may make a proper investigation easier.
“I want to know the truth about what happened to Amelie and Daniel,” Linsey told Correspondent.World.
“Action needs to be taken.”
When two suicide bombers exploded their devices in the Shangri-La Hotel’s breakfast room Linsey, then aged 21, was not on the family holiday — he was preparing for exams at Oxford University.
The suicide bombers, part of an Islamist extremist group, targeted two other hotels and three churches, killing 269 people on Easter Sunday 2019. His 15-year-old sister Amelie and his 19-year-old brother Daniel died as they were carrying an additional item of breakfast for their father Matthew. He was largely unscathed from the explosions, but the blast left both teenagers, who were close to the suicide bomber, mortally wounded.
The Linsey family has received an offer to make use of a specialist legal team being assembled by the Cardinal of Colombo to demand a full and penetrating inquiry, now that the key members of ruling clique have been forced into exile or have lost their grip on decades of corrupt power.
Cardinal Ranjith has accused the rulers of Sri Lanka of orchestrating a “grand conspiracy”. The Cardinal believes Linsey and other foreign victims’ families can help uncover the suspected role of the Rajapaksa family and Sri Lanka’s security apparatus in supporting the attacks or in a cover-up.
In an exclusive interview the Cardinal told Correspondent.World: “We are trying to contact different overseas people whose family members were killed or badly injured, to take action against the [deposed] government and to call for investigations.
“The Rajapaksa government has always hidden the facts and tried to put the blame on other people. We want international action so that any government that comes to power is obliged to do a thorough investigation into what happened. It is necessary that justice is done for these people.”
Linsey told Correspondent.World: “I am pleased to accept the Cardinal of Colombo’s efforts to discover what really happened.”
Rajapaksa could be prosecuted for murder if evidence of his hand in the mass killings is assembled.
“Those who hold power never allowed real independent investigations about what really happened,” the Cardinal said. He also wants an investigation into how Sri Lanka crashed economically in the space of less than 3 years.
The Cardinal believes the ruling family had incentives to stir up sectarian strife. It won the presidential election soon after the suicide bombings and had benefitted from the scenes of chaos and mass murder, so voters would find solace in the election of a strongman advocating tough ‘peace-and-security’ agenda — supposedly to dampen inter-communal violence.
“Despite four warnings and specific information given to the Sri Lanka government by the embassy of India, our churches were left to fend for themselves, and also the upmarket hotels, so that the attacks went ahead,” the Cardinal added.
Linsey, who met the Cardinal in 2019 on his first visit to Sri Lanka since the tragedy, set up a special fund to provide respirators and medical equipment, especially to the hospital where his dying or dead siblings were taken. “I’m sure the equipment already sent there by us has saved lives – especially during the pandemic,” he told Correspondent.World.
He says he is arranging for another set of crates to be sent to help cope with any further outbreaks of violence or extra hospital demand.
In the three years since his siblings died, David has completed his Oxford degree and has also founded and sold a financial technology company in Singapore. It has made him a “very decent” profit, some of which will go to further aid, psychological and physical, to those injured in the bombings and their traumatised families. Linsey, who is starting a new business venture in West Africa, still runs a justgiving account for donations. (To donate to David Linsey’s charity, click here.)
Linsey feels he has recovered psychologically but that his mother and father have suffered the brunt of the traumatic after-effects. “Knowing who was really behind it all would help everyone – my family included – to recover some sense of equilibrium,” Linsey concluded.