Witness testifies before PCoI probing Easter Sunday attacks
By Yoshitha Perera
Lanka Sathosa vehicles had been used to transport several outsiders to various parts in the Eastern Province in 2019 before the Easter Sunday attacks, during the tenure of MP Rishad Bathiudeen as Industrial and Commerce Minister, it was revealed yesterday before the PCoI probing Easter Sunday attacks.
Testifying before the Commission, former Chief Engineer attached to Lanka Sathosa Kumarawadu Ariyawansa said that on January 30, 2019 former Minister Bathiudeen had contacted him and asked him about the branches of Lanka Sathosa.
He said that former Minister had advised him to send Project Engineer Mohammed Aslam to several Sathosa branches located countrywide.
“Minister had asked me to send Mr. Aslam to check Lanka Sathosa outlets. I had advised the Minister that there were certain matters with regard constructing Sathosa branches in the Pottuvil and Mannar Districts. Then former Minister asked me to send Mr. Aslam to those areas,” he said.
However, it was informed to the Commission that the witness had made the initial request verbally to get vehicles belonging to Lanka Sathosa to travel to the above mentioned areas.
The witness said that after the Easter Sunday attack, Lanka Sathosa officials contacted him and asked him to send a back- dated- letter regarding the request he made to use Sathosa vehicles to travel to Eastern Province.
“I had sent a letter adding Mannar, Pottuvil and Palamunai to Lanka Sathosa,” he said.
When the Commissioners questioned him regarding Palamunai in the letter, the witness said that Project Engineer Mohammed Aslam had asked him to add the particular area in the letter.
Meanwhile, testifying before the Commission, a driver who had been attached to Lanka Sathosa- Nimesh Illangasinghe said that he had travelled to Eastern Province with Mr. Aslam on several occasions before the attacks.