Arrests of Hemasiri, Pujith not justified, admits former President | Daily News
Giving evidence before Easter attack PCoI:

Arrests of Hemasiri, Pujith not justified, admits former President

‘Many other officials responsible for not preventing attack’:

Former President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday admitted that the arrest of former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and IGP Pujith Jayasundara was not justified when there were many officials responsible for not preventing the Easter Sunday bombing.

The Former President made these remarks while responding to the cross examining led by the Attorney-at-law Dilshan Jayasuriya on behalf of the former Defense Secretary Hemasiri Fernando at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCol) probing Easter Sunday Bomb attacks.

He highlighted that all officers who received the intelligence information that an attack could take place and failed to provide it on time, have to take the responsibility of this.

“If so, isn’t it unfair that only the former Defense Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and the IGP Pujith Jayasundara have been remanded for four months,” Attorney-at-Law Dilshan Jayasuriya asked. In response, the former president Maithripala Sirisena said it was not fair. Attorney-at-Law Dilshan Jayasuriya asked whether the then Director of the State Intelligence, Senior DIG Nilantha Jayawardena, had neglected to inform him about the information received about an attack, from a foreign intelligence unit on April 04, 2019.

Responding to that, the former President stated that it was a collective responsibility and not only former SIS director, the officials who received the intelligence information on April 04, 2019 have to take the responsibility of the terror attack.

Meanwhile, during a discussion with the former President and senior police officers on April 8, 2019, when asked if he had discussed information that an attack was likely to take place, the witness said that no mention had been made of it.

Former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando was unable to attend the discussion with the senior police officers as he was attending a conference with the Indian Defense Secretary who was in Sri Lanka at the time. Earlier, the former President had told the Commission that he did not remember the Indian Defence Secretary being in Sri Lanka at that time. But, the former President yesterday stated that he met the Indian Defense Secretary at that time.

Also, when he was leaving for a foreign tour on April 16, 2019, he knew that there could be an attack through Mr. Jayewardene, but when the counsel suggested that the former President said that he would not accept that statement at all.

The counsel questioned whether Mr. Jayewardene had been informed of the April 16 bombing of a motorcycle by a group including National Tawheed Jamaath leader Saharan Hashim in the Kattankudy area. In reply, the witness said he was not aware of the incident until April 22.

However, the Counsel Jayasuriya asked the witness to categorize former defence secretary Hemasiri Fernando and former IGP Pujith Jayasundara as the two main officials who had to take the sole responsibility of the Easter terror attack, before receiving the Malalgoda Committee report.Responding to this, the witness said that he made the above statement based on the facts discussed at the National Security Council meeting.The Malalgoda Committee was appointed by the former President on April 21, 2019 tasked with investigating the causes and background of the coordinated terror attack.

Meanwhile, the former President had stated on several occasions that the committee’s report would be made public, but when asked why he did not make it public, the witness said that it was not made public because the Attorney General had informed him that its publication would be an impediment to further investigations.

Counsel Jayasuriya: “I suggest you did not make it public because of the need to protect some of the Government officials who were found guilty of it ? You only wanted to blame Mr. Fernando and Mr. Jayasundera.”

Witness: “I completely deny it”.

Meanwhile, when asked by the lawyer whether he was not responsible for the bombing that took place on Easter Sunday, the witness said that he was not responsible for it.

Jayasuriya: Did you take action to bring criminals like Makandure Madush to this country?

Witness: They were not done by the President. It was done by the Attorney General’s Department and Police.

Jayasuriya: However, you took praise for it, didn’t you ?

If the President is praised for doing something good, then the President should also take responsibility for something that goes wrong, right ?

Witness: It varies from case to case.

When questioned by the lawyer as to whether it was fair to take legal action against him if it was confirmed that he had not taken any action in the knowledge that there was a possibility of an attack, the witness said that there was nothing wrong with that if any investigation had confirmed that.