Special law proposed for coordinated intelligence structure | Daily News


PSC questions Presidential Easter attack fact-finding committee

Special law proposed for coordinated intelligence structure

The special three-member fact-finding committee appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena to inquire into the lapses which led to the Easter Sunday attacks told the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Easter bombings that they had recommended the country’s intelligence services be brought under an act of Parliament that would empower and govern the intelligence agencies.

“We found that intelligence information was not disseminated and have made recommendations to prevent recurrence of such terrorist attacks,” Committee member Supreme Court Judge Justice Vijith Kumara Malalgoda testifying before the PSC. “While there were several institutions there were weaknesses in coordination. There should be an independent body for intelligence gathering and dissemination.”

Justice Malalgoda added that there was ‘no legal framework’ governing intelligence services in the country. “We recommended establishing a legal framework which will incorporate all matters from intelligence gathering to dissemination. Under such circumstances these lapses would not have happened.”

The fact-finding committee, which was appointed by President immediately following the terror attacks on Easter Sunday, comprised former IGP N. K. Illangakoon, Supreme Court Judge Vijith Malalgoda and former Defence Secretary Padmasiri Jayamanne.

Former IGP Illangakoon who also testified simultaneously told the PSC that while there were many intelligence agencies operating in the country, there had been no proper coordination among them.

Justice Malalgoda also said that while the police officers who were summoned before the fact-finding committee had given excuses over their inaction, the committee had refused to accept these excuses.

“With regard to the Kochchikade police station, while there were 21 officers rostered, none were present at the scene of the attack until much later. Upon checking the records we found that there had been visible alterations. In one instance the records which previously indicated 8 officers were present, had been changed to 6, to denote that they were occupied,” Justice Malalgoda said. The former IGP said that the fact-finding committee had recommended the setting up of a separate committee to investigate the shortcomings of the police force.

Justice Malalgoda observed that the committee found that most of the bombs had been made using Urea Nitrate, which was easily available and accessible. “This same chemical was used in the terror attacks in America and has been used often by ISIS. Hauls of urea nitrate were found in Wanathawillu and in Ampara as well. We have recommended that a regulation be introduced to restrict the sale of this compound.”

Further describing the work of the presidential fact-finding committee, the committee members told the PSC that they had interviewed nearly 60 witnesses from as early as the day after the terror attacks. “The witnesses did not have time to react as they were questioned immediately following the attacks. It gave us a unique vantage point,” Justice Malalgoda said.

Responding to a question posed by M.A. Sumanthiran on the law under which the presidential fact-finding committee was constituted, Justice Malalgoda said that the committee was “not constituted under any particular law” but “as a fact-finding mission” as this was a “national issue” of paramount importance.

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