• Commissioners also questioned DSG Navavi whether he had identified a threat to the National Security after observing the above legal file opened by the TID against Zahran and NTJ
The attention was drawn to the file which was opened by the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) in 2017 to take legal action against National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ) and its leader Zahran Hashim, three weeks after the Easter Sunday terror attacks, Deputy Solicitor General (DSG) Asad Navavi on Saturday (05) informed the PCOI probing Easter Sunday attacks.
However, he informed the Commission that the delay in the file should not be considered as a reason for the Easter Sunday attacks.
A group of officials attached to the Attorney General’s (AG) Department who had handled the legal file against Zahran Hashim had been summoned before the Commission to provided evidence in relation to the file.
The inquiry was led by the five-member Commissioners after considering the request made by the representatives from the AG’S department, who assist the Commission proceedings.
According to the request made by the representatives from the AG’S Department who assist the Commission’s proceedings regularly, there will be a conflict of obligation if the team had handled the proceedings and requested the Commissioners to remove them by handling yesterday’s trial.
After considering the above request, a member of the Commission while commencing inquiry, questioned DSG Navavi on receiving the file opened by the TID to take legal action against Zahran Hashim.
Responding to the question DSG Navavi said that the file received to him on June 06, 2016, and it was then forwarded to his junior officer State Counsel Malik Aziz for further action.
Commissioner: “What is the special reason for sending the file to State Counsel Malik Aziz?”
DSG Navavi: “At the first glance I decided that the file should be referred to him, because it was about some speeches conducted by a Moulavi named Zainie, who was later identified as Zahran’s brother, about Islam. I thought a person who has knowledge in Islam has to handle the file”.
The witness added that the TID had failed to provide the most important supporting documents in the first instance and the AG’S department officials could not think of any legal action against the mentioned individuals.
The Commissioners also questioned DSG Navavi whether he had identified a threat to the National Security after observing the above legal file opened by the TID against Zahran and NTJ.
Responding to the question DSG Navavi said that in 2017 the file was presented without giving priority to National Security and the TID had not included important documents in the file.
“There is no connection between the delay of the file and the Easter Sunday attacks.after the statement recorded by the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) appointed to check the matters related to the attacks, there was a wrong opinion that the AG’S department had failed to take legal action against Zahran. If the TID had conducted a proper inquiry we could have commenced our legal action against those individuals way earlier,” he said.
Meanwhile, testifying before the Commission State Counsel Malik Aziz said that on March 12, 2019, there was a consultation with few TID officers in relation to the file and only at that point the officers had mentioned that the TID had obtained arrest warrants twice to arrest Zahran.
“These important documents were not attached to the file or had not been informed to the AG’S department until March 2019,” he said.
State Counsel Malik Aiziz informed the Commission that the TID had provided documents to the file twice, that was in 2017 and 2018 but none of these documents had included the two arrest warrants and the statements recorded by Zahran’s mother and his wife. After observing the facts and documents presented to the file in 2017 and 2018 by the TID, the AG’S department officials could not identify a threat to National Security.
“TID had only sent some screenshots regarding to the NTJ website and some extracts of the speeches conducted by Zahran’s brother. Along with the file, the TID had attached a letter requesting for legal advice on banning NTJ website, Zahran’s Facebook account and arresting him. There was no proper inquiry conducted and there were no supporting documents to arrest him. Until the consultation meeting on March 12, 2019 we were not aware that the TID had obtained arrest warrants twice against Zahran,” he said.
Subsequently, Deputy Solicitor General (DSG) Dileep Peiris was summoned to give evidence before the Presidential Commission.
DSG Peiris stated that a Moulavi from the other party who was involved in the clash between Zahran’s group at Aliyar Junction on March 10, 2017, had handed over a letter to the AG department regarding the injustice done to them.
He further informed that later the Kattankudy OIC was summoned for a discussion to find out what the law enforcement officers were doing after learning that a group including Zahran had gone missing with an arrest warrant.
DSG Peiris said he felt that the OIC had been subjected to some political influence during the interrogation and that the OIC was reluctant to intervene due to a religious conflict. (YOSHITHA PERERA)