Written by Zulfick Farzan
26 Mar, 2021 | 2:58 pm
Colombo (News 1st); The terror suspects arrested and detained by the government over the 2019 April 21st attacks, should be prosecuted without delay, said Former President Maithripala Sirisena on Friday (26).
In an hour-long statement to Parliament, Sirisena said approximately 60 such terror suspects are held in detention and a delay in prosecuting them would lead to some speaking on their behalf.
“I was made the target as the person who should be held responsible for the attacks by those in my government, opposition, and the media for allegedly being aware of the attacks and not taking action to prevent it,” said Sirisena.
The Former President said the intel on the 04th of April was received by local intelligence from a foreign counterpart and information was shared between the then-Secretary of Defence and IGP, who were informed of it by the Head of State intelligence.
“In-mid April I went overseas for treatment and even during that time the authorities had received intel. But, I was only made aware of it at the national security council meeting that met after the attacks,” said the former President.
“I am not a person who would disregard such information if I was made aware of it,” he added.
“If I was made aware of the intel, I would have informed the Cardinal to warn the churches and declare curfew in Colombo while taking the necessary security measures,” he added.
“There is no evidence in the PCoI report to claim that intel on the attacks was shared with me’, stressed Sirisena.
In his statement, the Former President said after he was made aware of the attacks when in Singapore, he took the necessary measures to make arrests and detentions.
The Former President went on to note that Foreign Intelligence Services that assisted Sri Lanka in the investigations following the attacks, had not provided a report on who was the real mastermind of the attacks and if there was any link to another country.
“From 2015 & 2016 at every National Security Council meeting I stressed the need to monitor the developments on the IS terror group across the globe,” said the Former President adding he stressed the need to ensure IS does not cross into Sri Lanka.
The Former President said he highlighted the importance of taking immediate action on information about IS movement in Sri Lanka, adding that legal action too should be taken.
“It was in 2017 that a warrant was issued for the arrest of Zaharan ( Zaharan Hashim, the leader of the group that led the terror attacks). At the time the warrant did not classify him as a terrorist, but as a person wanted over a clash that took place in the east of the country,” he said adding it is not the sole responsibility of the President of the Country to go and arrest a person with an outstanding warrant.
“When warrants are issued against criminals, the list is never sent to the National Security Council,” adding there are thousands with warrants against them adding it is the responsibility of the police to arrest them.
He went on to note there are multiple ranks and departments in the police force and it is also their responsibility to look into such matters and take appropriate action.
Former President Sirisena went on to note that even in January 2019 after he took control of the Ministry of Law & Order he questioned why Zaharan Hashim was not arrested, adding he explained it clearly to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry.
“I am aware of the impression the people have about me regarding the 2019 April 21st Attacks,” said the Former President adding the day after the terror attacks, the cabinet minister he appointed went to the media and said that the President (Sirisena) was aware of the attacks must be held responsible for the carnage.
“Several government ministers also created a public opinion to hold me responsible for the 2019 April Attacks,” said the Former President adding they alleged as President he had neglected his duties while being completely aware of the attacks.
Former President Maithripala Sirisena the public opinion created about him on the 2019 Terror Attacks is similar to the Goebbels’ Principles of Propaganda adding those opinions were created on the lack of understanding or with a political vendetta.
“Many were killed in the attack at the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi premises. Serious damage was caused in the attack on the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. Then there was the attack on the Central Bank, the massive explosion in Maradana, and the massacre in Aranthalawa. Commissions would be required for those events as well when we speak of accountability.
Everyone needs to understand the 2019 April Attacks were also terror attacks, said the former President.
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