Sirisena says officials who did not take action to prevent Easter attacks responsible for carnage

Sri Lanka Former President Maithripala Sirisena

Easter Sunday attacks could have been prevented if necessary action had been taken, and officials who did not do so should be held responsible for the carnage, former President Maithripala Sirisena said on Wednesday night, testifying before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

The commissioners asked the former President about the release of two of the four suspects, arrested during the CID raid on Wanathawilluwa Jihadist training camp on 16 January, 2019.

Sirisena said that the person who recommended the release of the suspects should be held responsible. The Commissioners informed him that the documents releasing them had been signed by him.

Sirisena said that he would sign a large number of documents brought to him by the CID and the Ministry of Defence and that it was not possible to check each one individually.

The Attorney General’s Department representative who led the evidence asked the witness whether it was not the responsibility of the Head of State to ensure the safety of the citizens. The former President said terrorist attacks took place in many countries of the world and that the incumbent was not held responsible for failure to prevent all of them.

The Commissioners then asked the witness about a report submitted by the State Intelligence Service (SIS) on 23 October, 2018 about 120 persons who propagated Islamic State (IS) ideology.

Sirisena said the relevant document had been discussed at the National Security Council (NSC) meetings and necessary instructions given. The Minister of Law and Order had attended the NSC meetings and they should have acted on the instructions given, the witness said.

The Attorney General’s Department representative then asked the witness whether he should not take responsibility for failure to prevent incidents such as damaging of the Buddha statues in Mawanella, in December 2018, attack on the Coordinating Secretary of former Minister Kabir Hashim and the explosion of a motorcycle bomb in the Kattankudy area on 16 April, 2019, as he was the minister of law and order at that time.

Sirisena said such incidents should have been investigated by the local Police and other relevant investigating agencies. It was not necessary to seek the advice of the President or the NSC to deal with such matters, he added.

(Source: The Island – By Rathindra Kuruwita)