Ex-President feared he would not be able to run for office again; Ex-Sec. Defence tells PCoI

Ex-President feared he would not be able to run for office again; Ex-Sec. Defence tells PCoI

Ex-President feared he would not be able to run for office again; Ex-Sec. Defence tells PCoI

Written by Muaad Razick

02 Oct, 2020 | 5:27 pm

Colombo (News 1st); Ex-Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando said former President Maithripala Sirisena made him and Ex-IGP Pujith Jayasundara the main culprits in the April Attacks, two days after the bombings without conducting any preliminary investigation because Sirisena believed would not be able to run for a second term if his reputation is tarnished.

Fernando made this comment in his testimony to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing the 2019 April 21st Attacks.

The witness said that the statement made by Maithripala Sirisena, on 23 April 2019, that Jayasundara and himself were fully responsible for the bombings was a very vicious statement that could be made as a head of state.

President’s Counsel Anil de Silva, appearing for former President cross-examined Fernando.

He questioned the witness whether he had the opportunity to speak to Sirisena on his return to Sri Lanka after a foreign tour on 21st April, 2019.

In response, he said he could not speak to the President as he was on his way to Colombo directly from the airport and added that he could not be reached over the phone too.

When questioned why he resigned from the post of Defence Secretary on 25 April, 2019, Fernando said that Sirisena had instructed the then IGP to take responsibility for the attack and to resign.

He had also been promised a number of privileges, including an ambassadorial post in any country of his choice if he resigned.

“In particular, Sirisena had said he would remove Pujith Jayasundara’s name from Malalgoda Commission which investigated the bombings”, said the witness.

The witness further said that he had informed the President at that time that former Director of the State Intelligence Service, Senior DIG Nilantha Jayawardena was responsible for not preventing the attacks as he used to forward intelligence information to Sirisena directly.

The President’s Counsel questioned the witness if he had failed to take any action as the Defence Secretary on the information received that National Thowheed Jamaath and its leader Zaharan Hashim could launch a terrorist attack. 

In response, Fernando said on the day he received it, he realized the seriousness of the matter and referred the same to the then Chief of National Intelligence and IGP.

The witness added, “Following my notification, the former IGP had taken steps to deploy Police officers for the security at some Churches,”.

He also said that when the former President went abroad no one was appointed to act as the Minister of Defence.

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