By Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana
The two Deputy Solicitors General who testified before the Parliamentary Select Committee probing the Easter Sunday bomb attacks on behalf of Attorney General’s (AG) Department yesterday denied the allegations made against their institution with regard to the delay in taking action to ban National Thowheed Jama’ath (NTJ) led by Zahran and faulted IGP Pujith Jayasundara and Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) and several others for their inaction.
- We need their investigation file to recommend legal action
Deputy Solicitors General Azad Navavi and Dileepa Peiris blamed the government agencies several times during the select committee sessions.
Deputy Solicitor General Peiris said it was not possible to take action on the basis of some print outs of the NTJ website. The other Deputy Solicitor General Navavi had later called the written initial information provided by TID to AG’s Department as a dead file.
“How can we take action upon some print outs? Besides, the TID never got back to us after submitting the first file,” Mr. Peiris said.
“We need their investigation file to recommend legal action. We cannot recommend the arrest of a person without evidence to prove that person had violated the law. The TID documents do not contain such evidence, Mr. Navavi said in response to some questions raised by select committee member Nalinda Jayatissa.
“The TID is an organization with experience. I do not see the need of giving instructions to TID on arrests that are to be made. They produced us a dead file in our terms. After one year they produced another file. It does not contain any investigation reports. It contained only 14 documents containing the speeches by Zahran, Navavi added.
Select Committee member Prof. Ashu Marasinghe then said that there are reports from three divisions of the Police. “They have cited the sections of the Penal Code that had been violated by the NTJ and Zahran. They have asked for instructions,” he said. “Do you continuously state that you did not provide advocacy for them? he questioned Mr. Navavi. He said they did not have any information in those reports to make arrests.
Dr. Jayatissa then questioned as to whether AG’s Department had informed the TID that there was no substance in their reports to make arrests. “We do not need to do that. The TID can do that on their own,” Mr. Navavi said.
Select Committee Member M. A. Sumanthiran then questioned as to whether the AG’s Department was in a position to say that there were no shortcomings on its part, Mr. Navavi then requested that he should be allowed to consult his colleagues. After a few minutes later Mr. Navavi said the following:
“We completely reject the notion that there was a shortcoming on our part. This is an unfortunate situation. Everybody thinks that the AG’s Department erred and as a result of that Zahran carried out the attack. The AG’s Department was instrumental in issuing two open warrants against Zahran. On July 2, 2017, the first open warrant was issued against Zahran by the Batticaloa High Court for his involvment in violent clashes. Again on July 18, 2018 the Colombo Magistrate issued another open warrant against Zahran in response to a request by the TID”.
Mr. Peiris earlier said that a copy of a written complaint handed over by Mowlavi Sahalan on NTJ has been sent to the then Minister of Justice Wijedasa Rajapakshe as well, but the latter never made any complaint on the matter. Also he revealed that the IGP and the President were also informed about the complaint made by the Mowlavi.
Mr. Peiris at the start of the sessions said AG’s Department had decided to testify before the Committee as an incorrect picture had been created on the Department. Acting Chairman of the Committee Dr. Jayampathi Wickramaratne who responded said reports on the select committee proceedings have been sensationalized by some media and that they have been advised not to do so.
We completely reject the notion that there was a shortcoming on our part. This is an unfortunate situation. Everybody thinks that the AG’s Department erred and as a result of that Zahran carried out the attack