Sri Lanka accused of ‘covering up’ deaths of Jewish teens

The brother of the UK Jewish victims of the 2019 hotel bombing in Colombo is calling for an investigation into the attack


Sri Lankan security personnel stand guard at the cordoned off entrance to the luxury Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo on April 21, 2019 following an explosion. - At least 42 people were killed April 21 in a string of blasts at hotels and churches in Sri Lanka as worshippers attended Easter services, a police official told AFP. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP via Getty Images)

The brother of two Jewish teenagers from London murdered by Islamist terrorists in Sri Lanka has called for an investigation into the attack amid claims of a cover-up by the authorities.

Amelie Linsey, 15 and Daniel Linsey, 19, died in a suicide bombing at a hotel in Colombo on Easter Sunday in 2019. Their father Matthew was there but survived.

They were among 269 people who were killed in coordinated attacks on churches and tourist hotels by Islamist extremists.

David Linsey, who is now 24, had been in Britain at the time, preparing for his finals at Oxford University, while his mother Angelina and younger brother Ethan also stayed behind.

This week David told the JC: “I desperately want to find out the truth about what really caused Amelie and Daniel to get blown up in those suicide bombings.

“Action needs to be taken.”

He added: “Knowing who was really behind it all would help everyone — my family included — to recover some sense of equilibrium.”

Gotabaya Rajapaksa became president in the wake of the attacks, having previously served as defence minister.

He fled Sri Lanka last week as his government collapsed after mass protests over the country’s dire economic crisis swept the island.

Rajapaksa had faced repeated claims of being complicit in a “grand conspiracy” to hide how much the authorities knew about the attacks before they took place.

The accusations have been led by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo.
David first met the Cardinal in 2019, when he visited Sri Lanka after the attacks.

He told the JC: “I am pleased to accept the Cardinal of Colombo’s efforts to discover what really happened.”

Urging the Linsey family to “get some help from our teams of lawyers who are working with us”, the Cardinal told the JC: “We are trying to contact different overseas people whose family members were killed or badly injured, to take action against the government and to call for investigations.”

He claimed: “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.”

The Cardinal believes the ruling family may have had incentives to stir up sectarian strife. It won an election soon after the suicide bombings, when voters would be drawn to a strongman advocating a tough “peace and security” agenda.

He said: “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.

“Those who hold power never allowed real independent investigations about what really happened.”

Rajapaksa and other members of the outgoing government have repeatedly denied that there has been a cover-up or that they were complicit in failing to act on intelligence warnings of the attacks.

David and his siblings were brought up as Jewish, the faith of their father Matthew, although his mother Angelina is Catholic.

He feels he has recovered psychologically from the events of three years ago, but adds that it is his parents who have suffered the brunt of the traumatic after-effects.

While still a student at Oxford, David set up a special fund to provide respirators and medical equipment for Sri Lanka, raising more than £350,000.

He said: “I’m sure the equipment already sent there by us has saved lives — especially during the pandemic.”

He is arranging for further deliveries of medical equipment.

Since graduating, he has founded and sold a financial technology company in Singapore, making 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.

He is now launching a new venture in West Africa.

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