Written by Staff Writer
17 Oct, 2020 | 9:32 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st): Former President Maithripala Sirisena refuted allegations which state that he had claimed he could alter the report of the Malalgoda Committee which was appointed by him to probe the April 21st Attacks.
He rebutted the claims while testifying before the Presidential Commission probing the April 21st Attacks today (October 17th)
The Former President said he would not stoop low so as to alter a report issued by a committee appointed by him.
“The Secretary to the President at the time, Udaya Senevirathna had carried out the activity of appointing the committee,” the former President said.
The Former President noted that he is unable to provide written evidence of necessary instructions and orders he issued regarding countering extremism, based on the intelligence reported provided to him, adding that he presumes the relevant documents are still stored a the Presidential Secretariat.
The Additional Solicitor General then inquired as to whether the instructions and orders given by him as the former Minister of Defense, Minister of Law and Order and Executive President had not been implemented.
“Although such orders and directives had been provided by him, lower-tier officials had not followed them,” said former President Sirisena.
The Additional Solicitor General then queried as to whether a proper review was not done to ensure the directives and orders were being followed.
” I had advised them properly. The issue was officers in the lower tiers not implementing them. If they had been followed, none of this would have occurred,” the Former President noted.
The Commission then questioned if extremists were able to carry out such an attack since there was a lack of advice provided by the President owing to the volatile situation in the political climate at the time.
Replying to the query the Former President said, ” there was no political crisis at the time. Everything returned to normal after the verdict of the Supreme Court was delivered. Although there were political clashes, there were no issues within ministries. I do not believe that contributed to the attacks because the cabinet convened each week. There was a meeting of the Ministry of Defence. For 4 years, the Security Council provided directives but they were not implemented. The Army possesses a large number of intelligence officers out of the entire intelligence service. Naval intelligence was strong in the North and East. But, no information was provided by them. Even the killing of Police officers in Batticaloa was made out to be a crime committed by the LTTE. It was only later that they discovered the weapons in the possession of Zaharan’s followers. ”
The Former President added, ” I am providing evidence to this commission for the 4th day. I am glad I was questioned regarding the speech I made in Parliament following the attacks. I always acted based on my conscience. I engaged in politics because of the country and the people. I am not at fault for other authorities shirking its responsibilities. I am neither an expert in security intelligence nor defence. Those who were suitable for those positions were appointed after calling for applications. They were trained after they were recruited as well. They were given overseas training. They are bound to fulfil their duties. The issue of intelligence services not fulfilling their duties has arisen here. Why did they not operate based on the directives provided? I am amazed. The intelligence services in the North and East are solid. But, they had not received information. I fulfilled my responsibility as the President. However, those below me have not. I have spoken at a number of fora regarding eradicating extremism. Necessary orders and directives were provided. Certain quarters have evaded their duties.
While obtaining evidence from the former President concluded today, cross-examination will commence at 4.00 pm on the 22nd of October.
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