Former IGP Pujith Jayasundara and former Defense Secretary Hemasiri Fernando were ordered to be further remanded till July 9 by the Colombo Chief Magistrate after considering the evidence presented during the magisterial inquiry against the IGP and Defense Secretary who were charged with criminal negligence, murder and failure to prevent or at least minimise the damage caused during the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks.
Colombo Chief Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne also fixed July 9 for an order to be delivered on the maintainability of the case under Section 296 of the Penal Code and granting bail to the suspects.
The Court directed the Prisons Authority to produce the suspects who are currently receiving treatment at two hospitals, before Court on the next hearing date.
Both the Defense and Prosecution were directed to file written submissions over the legal meaning covered under Section 296 (murder charge) and Section 294 (4) of the Penal Code whether the phrase "if the person committing the act or omission knows that it is so imminently dangerous that it must in all probability cause death" can be proven in this case.
At the onset of the inquiry, Deputy Solicitor General Thusith Mudalige explained as to how the prosecution brings up the particular allegations against the two suspects based on the series of omissions of the suspects.
DSG Mudalige said that this criminal investigation commenced after the interim report of the 'Special Board of Inquiry appointed to inquire into the Easter attacks', which recommended a possible criminal investigation against the two suspects.
The DSG elaborated on how the series of omissions transpired on the suspects' part referring to the events that took place prior to the April 21st attacks.
He said that the Head of Intelligence had sent a letter to the former IGP on April 9, 2019 mentioning the possibility of a suicide attack being carried out in the near future. The DSG explained that the warning had included information on the nature and the possible targets of the terrorists. However, according to the DSG the former IGP had copied that letter to four DIGs but failed to share the information with other relevant officers.
The DSG said that the Head of Intelligence had informed the Defense Secretary of the possibility of an attack taking place as far back as April 4, 2019. According to him, a meeting of the Intelligence services, comprising the three forces commanders, took place thereafter on April 9. The two accused had also participated in the discussions.
However, the DSG revealed that the suspects had not brought up the possibility of a terror attack during the council meeting and the terror warnings were thus ignored.
Submitting details about another failure of the suspects, the DSG pointed out that there was a bomb blast that took place targeting a motorbike in the Kattankudy area on April 16 evening, which was subsequently informed to the former IGP on April 17, 18, 19 by the Kattankudy Police and the Head of the Intelligence service.
The DSG said that the Head of Intelligence had informed the IGP about a possible link between the bomb blast and a future terror attack as it's nature was identified by the investigation as a preparation for such an attack.
The DSG also revealed that the Head of Intelligence, writing another letter on April 20, 2019, had informed about other suspicious individuals who could be part of a plan to attack certain targets.
However, the IGP had not taken any action regarding the letters or information he received on April 17,18,19, and 20 over the possibility of a terror attack, the DSG said.
He also said that there was enough evidence to suggest that Head of Intelligence had informed the IGP about the attack on April 20, 2019 evening and April 21 morning via WhatsApp.
The DSG said that based on the above evidence it could be understood that the suspects had failed to take precautions to prevent a probable attack having been in possession of sufficient information of such an attack taking place, causing the deaths of so many innocent persons.
Therefore, he said the prosecution had brought charges against the two suspects after taking the facts in their possession.
Appearing for the suspects, President's Counsel Anuja Premaratne rejected the prosecution's argument saying this 'terrorist attack information' was first received by the Sri Lankan Intelligence officials from Indian Intelligence on April 4, 2019 and based on that the State Intelligence service acted on the information by informing the IGP on April 9, 2019.
Mr. Premaratne PC said that the first suspect, former Defense Secretary Hemasiri Fernando, had not received any letters from the Intelligence Services but came to know about the warnings on April 8, 2019.
He also said the letter received by the IGP on April 9, 2019 from the Head of the Intelligence Service was not a letter written with much certainty as it had a phrase which read 'investigation has not observed so far over the alleged suspicious acts relating to Zahran'.
He said also the IGP had taken all the possible steps that he could have taken after that letter was received by him, as he had copied it to the Western Province SDIG, DIG STF, Director TID and DIG under whom the PSD and JSD comes.
He also pointed out that the letter dated April 9 which carried the warnings of a possible attack was also copied to the SDIG of the CID, which is now conducting the criminal investigation into the Easter Sunday attacks and it is apparent that they had also known about the warnings but did nothing to prevent it.
Mr. Premaratne also argued that the letters passed on to the IGP on April 17,18,19,and 20 did not contain substantial information over the April 16 motorbike bomb blast and such letters did not refer to the possibility that this blast had anything to do with a possible terror attack in the future as suggested by the prosecution.
He also pointed out that a letter dated April 25, 2019 sent by DIG Deshabandu Thennakoon (Western Province) to the IGP mentioning how he acted upon the IGP's instructions in informing the relevant police officials, particularly the OIC of the Katuwapitiya Police Station to be vary of a possible terror attack.
The SDIG had also stated in that letter that the OIC of the Katuwapitiya Police Station had not considered the Katuwapitiya Church as a possible target and as a result no special security was provided. Mr. Premaratne therefore said it was the OIC who should have been arrested for negligence and not his client.
Mr. Premaratne also said that there was no Security Council meeting called by the President since February 19, 2019 and furthermore the second suspect, the IGP, had not been called upon to participate in such meetings since October, 2018.
He said the practice of the Head of the Intelligence was to inform the matters directly to the President, who was the Defense Minister. Therefore, neither the former Defense Secretary or the IGP could be held responsible for the terror attacks as they had all that could be expected of them based on the information supplied to them by the Intelligence Services. (Shehan Chamika Silva)