By Yoshitha perera
Former President Maithripala Sirisena had instructed former IGP Pujith Jayasundara not to conduct investigations regarding National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) Leader Zahran Hashim since he had handed it over to the State Intelligence Service (SIS), in writing, former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando yesterday informed the PCoI probing Easter Sunday attacks.
Testifying before the Commission, Mr. Fernando said that 75% of the investigation regarding NTJ had been handed over to the SIS by the former President in 2018.
Mr. Fernando said that SIS Director Nilantha Jayawardena had to take the responsibility over the Easter Sunday coordinated terror attacks since he had failed to present accurate information, observation and recommendations prior to the attack.
Mr. Fernando said that the former SIS Director had been very reluctant to discuss with the foreign intelligence regarding the possible terror attack at the weekly intelligence review meeting held on April 9, 2019, before the coordinated terror attack.
“The former SIS Director and former President Maithripala Sirisena had a strong bond between them, which was beyond that of a father and son,” he said.
When the representative from the Attorney General’s (AG) department further questioned the witness regarding the foreign intelligence about the possible terror attack, witness said that he had received the following letter on April 8, 2019.
He said that as the then SIS Director, Nilantha Jayawardena had to explain the facts mentioned on the letter received from a foreign counterpart.
“I didn’t have time to check the subsequent letter on April 8, the day I received the letter, because there was an event with Indian delegates,” he said.
The AG’s department representative then questioned Mr. Fernando as to whether he had taken any measures to inform the Indian High Commission, since it was also one of the targets mentioned in the letter received from a foreign counterpart.
Responding to the question, the witness said that the foreign intelligence received on April 4, 2019 to the SIS Director, was not a confirmed information.
“It is evident that the initial foreign intelligence received on April 4, 2019 was not a confirmed detail, because on April 20, 2019 we were receiving another foreign intelligence. In that the informant had removed the Indian High Commission and mentioned that a possible attack can occur at a hotel, frequently inhabited by Indians,” he said.
Mr. Fernando added that the SIS Director was the relevant official to provide instructions to the senior security and political heads, and only then could the senior officials take necessary action.
*** I didn’t have time to check the letter on April 8, the day I received the letter, because there was an event with Indian delegates