Thursday, April 15, 2021

Lanka police to record Sirisena’s statement on Easter attacks

Colombo, January 6: Sri Lankan police will record former president Maithripala Sirisena’s statement on the Easter bombings this week, a court was told on Monday as it took up the case against former police chief and defence secretary over allegations that they failed to prevent the island’s worst terror attack that killed nearly 270 people.
The police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) will record the statement of Sirisena on Tuesday or Wednesday, Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris said this when the case against former police chief Pujith Jayasundera and former defence secretary Hemasiri Fernando was taken up before Colombo Additional Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage on Monday.
The two former top officials have been accused of failing to take measures to prevent the Easter Sunday attacks despite having prior intelligence of the attacks.
Meanwhile, the Colombo Magistrate’s Court ordered to extend the remand of Fernando and Jayasundara until January 22. They were arrested for their alleged failure to prevent the attacks. Both have denied criminal negligence.
The state attorney appearing for the CID told the court that statements have been recorded from former state defence minister Ruwan Wijewardena – who was serving at the time of the incident and former minister Rishad Bathiudeen over the incident.
Sirisena was also the defence minister when nine suicide bombers from a local extremist group struck three churches and three luxury hotels in Colombo on April 21 last year.
The then Opposition alleged that prior Indian intelligence on the attacks were ignored due to an internal power struggle between Sirisena and his then prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
After the attacks, Sirisena said that senior officials did not share the intelligence with him. Wickremesinghe also said that he was not privy to the intelligence reports.
A series of panels were appointed by both factions of the government to probe lapses in ignoring warnings for the attacks which crippled the country’s tourism industry.
Sirisena’s probe resulted in the unprecedented jailing of the then police chief and the top defence ministry administrator while a parliamentary probe pinned the president’s shortcomings in handling the security apparatus.
The Easter Sunday bombings had a devastating effect on the electorate, clearing the way for Gotabaya Rajapaksa for his November 16 presidential election victory.
In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, Rajapaksa announced his candidature projecting him as the strong leader the country needed to deal with the rising Islamic extremism. (PTI)