TID under IGP, empowered to make arrests- DSG Navavi:

Deputy Solicitor General Azard Navavi testifying before the Parliament Select Committee mandated to probe the terror attacks on Easter Sunday said that it was unfortunate there was a “malicious and baseless position propagated by parties with some interest” that the failure of the AG’s Department to advise the Terrorist investigation Division led to the attacks on Easter Sunday which claimed over 250 lives.

Navavi was responding to questions repeatedly posed by the committee on why the Attorney General failed to dispense advice to the TID who had written to them on two occasions.

“The TID for two years even with the availability of two arrest warrants, one of which was issued in 2017 by Batticaloa courts and the other in 2018 by Colombo courts, could not arrest Zahran,” he told the committee. “There is an opinion in society that due to the failure of the AG’s Department to respond to TID, the explosions took place. It is wrong. They are trying to make us solely responsible.”

Navavi told the committee that the TID need not seek advice from the AG’s Department to make an arrest. “The TID was functioning directly under the IGP and is well empowered to make an arrest. The AG’s Department is not at fault.” He said. “The TID files did not contain investigative material. Not a single page of the letters contained investigative material of evidential value.”

“They produced us a dead file in our terms. After one year they produce another file. It does not contain any investigation reports. It contained only 14 documents containing the speeches by Zahran,” he said. “We cannot recommend the arrest on the basis of what contained in those documents. We need not check the links, that should be done by the investigators.”

When asked repeatedly of why the AG’s Department could not take action based on the audio and video’s shared by the TID, he said that the according to the provisions of the ICCPR Act, the department needs a lay person to state that his feelings against another community had been insulted.

“Without that element we cannot describe the speeches as racially instigating. If an AG’s Department counsel says so, then he would be the witness. We need a lay witness. We cannot do so,” he said.

He added that the AG’s Department cannot give a direction which would infringe upon another individual’s personal liberty. “If the TID wanted to have a website banned, they should have gone to the Telecommunication Regulation Commission,” he said. “We expected an investigation report and if there is evidence to say that an offense had been committed, the law enforcement agency could have made the arrest.”


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