Former President Maithripala Sirisena's Security division was unaware about Easter attacks until it happened on April 21, 2019, ASP S.G Satharasinghe who served at the Presidential Security Division (PSD) informed the PCoI probing Easter Sunday attacks yesterday.
Testifying before the Commission, Satharasinghe said that the PSD was preparing an evaluation report after having monthly meetings with DIGs and a member from State Intelligence Service (SIS).
"Usually in these meetings, we are getting an evaluation report on the current security of the president. If there is any special event scheduled to attend, we are taking measures to identify security of the President before attending to the particular event," he informed the Commission.
Accordingly, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Ayesha Jinasena questioned the witness at the meeting, which was held on April 12, 2019 at Weber Stadium, Batticaloa. It was reported to the Commission that the former President Maithripala Sirisena had attended the meeting which was held at Weber Stadium, Batticaloa on April 12 and nearly 5000 people had participated in this event.ASG then questioned the witness whether the PSD and SIS officials had a special meeting with regard to the evaluation of the former president's security before attending to the meeting held at Weber Stadium.
Responding to the question, Satharasinghe said that there was no security evaluation meeting conducted before former President attended the particular meeting.
"There was no security evaluation meeting but then SIS Director Nilantha Jayawardena had sent a secret letter on April 10, 2019 stating a security evaluation on Batticaloa area," he said. Witness informed the Commission that in the letter it was mentioned that so far there was no clear security threats reported to the President but the PSD should ensure security on certain areas. In the letter he elaborated that the PSD should take special security measures since there are ISIS followers reported within the area. He also said that the area is popular for conducting extremist activities, witness informed the Commission. However, earlier it was informed to the Commission that on April 09, 2019 then SIS Director Sisira Mendis had sent the details including that Zahran Hashim of National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) and his associates are planing to carry out a suicide attack in the country. SIS Director had sent the particular letter marked 'Top Secret' to IGP, with copies to CNI and CID.
ASG Ayesha Jinasena further questioned the witness at the security evaluation meeting which was held on February 03, 2019 before the Independence Day.
Satharasinghe informed the Commission that for the evaluation meeting before the Independence Day, Senior Superintendent of SIS Lalith Nanayakkara informed that in Sri Lanka there were 125 people connected to ISIS and two of them already reported to have moving around in Wellampitiya and Dehiwala area.
"Lalith Nanayakkara also mentioned that after ISIS defeat in Iraq and Iran they were planning to attack other countries," witness said. During the testimony, Satharasinghe said that the security evaluation meetings which held from March 2019 and further, the PSD had frequently received information on extremist practices within the country. Head of PSD, DIG Rohan Silva and Police Superintendent attached to SIS Janaka Senaviratne participated in these meetings, witness informed the Commission. (Yoshitha Perera)