Former Defence Secretary contradicts IGP’s testimony | Daily News

IGP excluded from only one SC meeting:

Former Defence Secretary contradicts IGP’s testimony

Testifying before the Parliament Select Committee probing the Easter attacks yesterday, former Defence Ministry Secretary Kapila Waidyaratne debunked a claim by Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundara that he had been shut out of Security Council meetings.

Waidyaratne said that he had not deterred the IGP from attending the Security Council (SC) meetings.

He rejected the version of the IGP who had earlier told the Select Committee that he (the IGP) had been barred from attending Security Council meetings since October last year.

“On October 23, the President instructed me to hold the SC at 6 a.m. that day. Sisira Mendis, the Chief of National Intelligence was informed and requested to alert the others,” he told the Select Committee. “During my conversation with the President, he told me that the IGP need not come for that meeting. I did not question his orders.”

Waidyaratne said that at the time, there had been an ongoing investigation into claims being made by Namal Kumara in which the IGP had been cited. Subsequently the Chief of National Intelligence had telephoned the Defence Secretary and told him that he was not in a position to convey the same message to the IGP.

“I told him that I would make the call.When I was about to, the IGP called me and I told him that he need not come for the meeting. He asked if he should send anyone else and I said that if the need arose, I would inform him accordingly.”

The Defence Secretary told the PSC that during his tenure the IGP actively took part in all Security Council meetings to the point that he had produced every necessary document, dispensed advice and kept the Council abreast of investigations and intelligence information.

“It was only for that meeting, that he was asked not to come. On the 30th, upon leaving the service, the next SC meeting was on November 13. I was informed that the IGP had attended the meeting,” he recalled.

The Defence Secretary was questioned extensively on how closely the Chief of National Intelligence (CNI) had worked with him. “There were instances when the CNI came to my home at 9 in the evening. There were several times when we met during the weekends and prepared for the intelligence coordination meeting and SC,” he said.

Dr. Jayampathy Wickremaratne, chair of yesterday’s PSC sitting (in the absence of Chair Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri) briefed the news media present regarding a detail of the previous closed-door testimony by State Intelligence Service Director Nilantha Jayawardena. Jayawardena had testified that he had requested the Chief of National Intelligence to summon a meeting before the Security Council meeting that week of 9th April to discuss the foreign intelligence report that was received. When PSC chair Wickramaratne told this to the media, Waidyaratne did not comment on the matter as he had ceased to be the Defense Secretary after October 2018.

The Select Committee also questioned Waidyaratne as to whether there were other avenues through which the President would have been provided with intelligence information. The former Defence Secretary responded by saying that there had been instances where the President was knowledgeable about certain incidents and matters. He cited the incidents in Digana stating that by the time he informed the President, the President had been aware of the tense situation. “It depends on the situation. If I answer your question with an affirmative, then it is an issue and if I say no, that would still become an issue,” he told the Select Committee.

When asked if the CNI spoke directly to the President, Waidyaratne said that the CNI may speak directly to the President but the SIS always informed the Defence Secretary prior to the President.

He told the PSC that the rise and spread of Islamist extremism was discussed during the Security Council meetings since March 2017. He read out a part of the agenda from one of the intelligence coordination meetings where it called on the Terrorism Investigation Department to prepare a report and produce it at the following Security Council meeting.

When queried as to what steps he would have taken had he been the Defence Secretary at the time, Waidyaratne refused to answer the question adding that since the matters were before judicial inquiry, it would be detrimental for him to air his opinion.

 


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