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2024.03.23- Sirisena’s Easter attacks revelation: CID seeks AG’s advice on questioning ex-President

2024.03.23- Sirisena’s Easter attacks revelation: CID seeks AG’s advice on questioning ex-President

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) is seeking the Attorney General’s (AG) instructions on questioning former President Maithripala Sirisena regarding his recent assertion of being “well aware” of the true perpetrators behind the Easter Sunday bombings in 2019.

This revelation, made by Sirisena during a public address in Kandy on Friday (22), has sparked widespread speculation and raised questions about the former President’s knowledge and involvement in the tragic events.

“The suspects who are currently in remand custody in connection with the attacks are minor offenders. The real culprits are still at large. However, I am ready to shed light on the perpetrators of the Easter Sunday attacks and make a special statement if I am summoned to court,” he had stated.

“I have been keeping this information under wraps, and therefore, it is imperative for the judges also to keep a lid on it,” Sirisena had added.

Sirisena in a special statement said that the remarks he made on Friday had been based on information he had received three weeks ago and expressed readiness to disclose this information to the courts if ordered to do so. 

“The statement will be made secretly, as making it public would pose a huge risk to my life and the lives of my family members,” he added.

Soon after the former President’s controversial statement was made public on Friday, the Catholic Church demanded that the CID, the Public Security Ministry, and all relevant authorities take immediate action to arrest Sirisena.

Meanwhile, speaking to The Sunday Morning, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP Kavinda Jayawardana stated that the SJB’s Catholic Committee had lodged a complaint with the Police yesterday morning (23), urging an impartial inquiry into the statement made by Sirisena and demanding his appearance before court.

A senior CID official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, disclosed that the department had forwarded a request to the AG’s Department for assistance and was awaiting a response. 

“Questioning may start, but we have not started yet. We will have to get instructions from the AG’s Department,” the official said.

When asked whether Sirisena could be arrested over the statement, Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said: “That comes under the Ministry of Public Security. It will have to decide.”

Meanwhile, Public Security Minister Tiran Alles last evening directed the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to initiate an immediate investigation into the recent remarks made by Sirisena regarding the Easter Sunday bomb attacks.

Alles has refrained from making definitive statements regarding the possibility of Sirisena’s arrest over the suppression of evidence in connection to his recent revelation about the Easter Sunday bombings.

When approached for clarification on the issue, Alles emphasised that it was premature to comment on such matters until a statement had been obtained from Sirisena.

“It’s too early to make a comment on that. First, we will have to look into it. All these things can be done, but it’s too early to comment,” stated Alles.

Regarding the CID’s decision to seek the Attorney General’s instructions on the matter, Alles expressed unawareness: “I don’t know. That’s news to me.”

The Sunday Morning reliably learns that Alles is under pressure regarding Sirisena’s statement, with a number of parties calling for his arrest. 

On 21 April 2019, the National Thowheeth Jama’ath, an Islamist militant group, orchestrated a series of devastating attacks targeting churches and hotels across Sri Lanka. These coordinated bombings resulted in the loss of 269 lives and left over 500 individuals injured.

Almost immediately, criticism arose regarding alleged negligence within the highest levels of the political and security apparatus. Multiple petitions were filed, alleging violations of fundamental rights against Government and intelligence officials.

The Supreme Court deliberated on 12 Fundamental Rights petitions and reached a consensus that the respondents, including former President Maithripala Sirisena, former Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundara, former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando, and former Chief of National Intelligence Sisira Mendis, had failed to address the intelligence warnings regarding the impending attacks with the necessary gravity.

The court expressed profound dismay at the evident lack of oversight and inaction prevalent in matters concerning security, law enforcement, and intelligence.

Notably, President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who served as Prime Minister at the time of the attacks, was initially named as a defendant in all cases. However, in July 2022, he was removed as a defendant due to his status as Executive President, affording him immunity from prosecution.

As per the verdict, Sirisena was ordered to pay Rs. 100 million in compensation to the victims of the attacks, while Jayasundara is required to pay Rs. 75 million. 

Additionally, other defendants, including prominent defence and intelligence officials, were instructed to pay significant compensation amounts. These payments are to be sourced from their personal funds. 

Furthermore, the State was mandated to provide Rs. 1 million to the families of the deceased and Rs. 500,000 to each individual injured in the tragic incidents.

Earlier this month, a writ petition was lodged before the Court of Appeal, urging the IGP and other respondents to initiate legal proceedings against Senior DIG Nilantha Jayawardena, the former Chief of the State Intelligence Service.

The petition, brought forth by Centre for Society and Religion (CSR) Director Rev. Fr. Jude Vernon Rohan Silva and Easter attacks victim Devage Surach Nilanga, alleges Jayawardena’s failure to prevent the 2019 Easter Sunday terror attacks despite receiving intelligence.

Named as respondents in the petition are the IGP, SDIG Jayawardena, and the Attorney General. The petitioners argue that despite ample evidence demonstrating Jayawardena’s negligence in thwarting the coordinated bombings, no legal action had been taken against him.

The petition calls upon the Court of Appeal to issue an order compelling the named respondents to implement the recommendations of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) on the Easter Sunday attacks.

Furthermore, the petitioners are seeking a writ of mandamus for Jayawardena’s criminal arrest, followed by subsequent legal proceedings against him.

Meanwhile, Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith recently disclosed that over 1,500 pages of crucial evidence were missing from the soft copy of the PCoI report on the Easter Sunday attacks provided to the church by the Government. 

Despite repeated requests, the Government has withheld these pages containing vital testimonies, including those of key witnesses such as Hadiya, wife of Zahran Hashim, and Sarah Jesmin, a close associate of the terrorists. 

The Cardinal criticised Government officials for misleading the public about the completeness of the report and accused them of ignoring emerging evidence, such as allegations from witness Azad Moulana implicating high-ranking officials.

These revelations come as the fifth anniversary of the Easter Sunday attacks approaches. 

The Cardinal also emphasised on the need for a fresh, fair, and independent investigation into the attacks, given the new evidence and allegations surfacing in the case.


Source- The Morning



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