- Over the manner she gave evidence regarding a media release
By Yoshitha Perera
The Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) probing the Easter Sunday attacks on Thursday sternly warned the Attorney General’s (AG) Coordinating Officer State Counsel Nishara Jayaratne for the manner in which she provided evidence to the Commission.
AG’s Coordinating Officer Nishara Jayaratne was summoned to the Commission to provide evidence in relation to a media release issued by the AG’s department on June 19, 2019 about the file submitted by the Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) on National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) and Zahran Hashim.
Testifying before the Commission State Counsel Jayaratne said that the media release was issued in response to a statement made by Ven. Magalkande Sudaththa Thera regarding the TID file submitted to the AG’s department on Zahran Hashim.
“This release was issued as a response to the false media statement made by Magalkande Thera who came to our department on June 10, 2019. In the media statement, the Thera said that on July 7, 2018 the TID had handed over a 300 pages’ file regarding Zahran Hashim and the NTJ to the AG’s Department,” she said.
She added that the entire file was actually received by the AG’s department on May 6, 2019, after the Easter Sunday attack. Then a Commissioner questioned State Counsel Jayaratne whether the media statement stated that there was no misconduct occurred by the AG’s department regarding the file submitted by the TID on Zahran Hashim.
Responding to the question SC Jayarante said at that time the AG’s department had not initiated an internal inquiry into the file submitted by the TID. “This release was not issued to clarify whether the Attorney General's Department had acted properly or not, but only in response to the statement,” SC Jayaratne said.
Commissioner: "If the AG’s department had recommended the Department to the Public Service Commission to take disciplinary action against two officials of the Attorney General's Department in connection with this incident on November 27, 2020, and the contents of the press release you issued earlier were contradictory?"
SC Jayaratne: "The press release was issued by the AG’s Department before a three-member committee conducted an internal investigation. The committee then conducted an investigation and made recommendations,"
Meanwhile, President’s Counsel Shavindra Fernando appearing for Deputy Solicitor General (DSG) Azard Navavi questioned the witness whether she carried out the AG’s opinion that the TID did not provide enough information in the EER 08/2017 file related to Zahran Hashim.
Responding to the question the AG’s Coordinating officer said that she could not provide AG’s opinion and she prepared the letter based on AG’s instructions.
However, Shavindra Fernando PC questioned the way SC Jayaratne provided evidence to the Commission and requested the Commissioner to name her as a witness who insulted the Commission. Then the Commissioner advised the witness to provide evidence in a proper manner since there was a disciplinary inquiry against two officials attached to the AG’s department.
- Jayaratne said that the media release was issued in response to a statement made by Ven. Magalkande Sudaththa Thera