Aren’t you responsible behind the failure to prevent this attack? Sirisena Grilled for 6th day at PCoI

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Easter Sunday attack Saturday ordered former President Maithripala Sirisena to submit to the commission medical reports of receiving treatment at a Singapore hospital during the Easter Sunday attack on 21 April 2019.

The telephone conversations between former President Maithripala Sirisena and former Director of State Intelligence Nilantha Jayawardena on the day before and on the day of the Easter attack were questioned by the Commission today.

Meanwhile, it was revealed at the Presidential Commission yesterday that the former President, who was in Singapore at the time, had taken a telephone call to the then Director of the State Intelligence Service Nilantha Jayawardena 46 minutes before the terrorist attack on Easter Sunday.

Former President Maithripala Sirisena, who was the Executive President, Minister of Defense and Minister in charge of Law and Order at the time of the terrorist attack on Easter Sunday, testified before the Presidential Commission today for the sixth day.

President’s Counsel Shamil Perera appearing for Archbishop Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith cross-examined the former President.

The President’s Counsel drew attention of the former President to a question raised to him at the Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to look into the Easter attack by its member Field marshal Sarath Fonseka.

Addressing the open commission, former President Maithripala Sirisena said he doesn’t accept the Parliamentary Select Committee appointed by the previous parliament to look into the Easter attack.

“Sir, I do not accept the proceedings of the Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to look into the Easter attack. I did not go to testify in it. I asked them to come and see me at the Presidential Secretariat if necessary. Mr. Sarath Fonseka you asked about has a personal grudge against me. The other members of the committee also had a personal grudge against me. If I had made a statement in front of it, that statement would have been correct, but if that PSC had recommended about me, I would not have accepted it,” the former President replied.

President’s Counsel: Did you take over the Ministry of Law and Order on December 24, 2019 because there was an opinion in the society that there was a conspiracy to assassinate him?

Ex- President: No, sir, I reject that.

President’s Counsel: “You testified before the Commission that on April 4 last year, a foreign intelligence unit had given advance notice of the attack, but you did not inform any of the officers at the April 8 meeting of senior police officers about the advance notice. Can you explain?”

Ex- President: “Yes sir, no one told me at that meeting about the advance information that had already been received. Even then, many officials under the Ministry of Defense, including the IGP and the Defense Secretary, were aware of this, but they did not tell me. I would have stopped leaving country if I knew.”

President’s Counsel: “Former Director of the State Intelligence Service Nilantha Jayawardena testified before this Commission that by April 11, 15,000 people, including security personnel, were aware of the information received from foreign intelligence on April 4. What do you think about that?”

Ex- President: I do not know for sure if 15,000 were aware, but even the then senior DIG Rohan de Silva, then head of the Presidential Security Forces, did not know that 15,000 knew.”

President’s Counsel: Is that an acceptable story? The country’s president and defense minister, did not know what 15,000 people, including security personnel, knew.”

Ex- President: “I do not know.”

President’s Counsel: You had told Nilantha Jayawardena, the then Director of the State Intelligence Service, that if there was any important information regarding national security, he should inform you directly. So he did not inform you about this information ..?”

Ex- President: “Yes, I had informed Mr. Jayewardene at the National Security Council. But no one had informed me of such a thing until this unfortunate incident on Easter Sunday.”

President’s Counsel: “Did you have a habit of contacting Mr. Nilantha Jayawardena on the phone on a daily basis?”

Ex- President: “No, there were no such daily telephone connection.”

President’s Counsel: “However, there are 221 telephone calls between Nilantha Jayawardena and your house on Paget Road from January 1 to April 31, 2019.”

Ex- President: “I do not remember taking so many calls despite the reports. I do not know if Nilantha took calls to home, but I did not have time to answer so many calls.”

President’s Counsel: “However, these documents contain data related to calls, so can you say that they are incorrect?”

Ex- President: “I do not understand the technicalities. I do not even use a telephone, so I do not have the knowledge to understand those records.”

At this point, the President’s Counsel further directed the Commission to study the telephone records of instances where the Director of State Intelligence had contacted the former President at the President’s official residence at Paget Road.

President’s Counsel: “These reports show that there were 20 telephone conversations between you and the former Director of the State Intelligence Service between April 01 and 21 last year. Can you believe that the former Director of the State Intelligence Service did not inform you about the April 4 intelligence in such a situation? ”

When the former President replied that he did not have a great understanding of the telephone records, President’s Counsel Shamil Perera referred one of his junior lawyers to assist the former President.

Ex- President: “Despite these reports, I can’t accept that I talked so much. Nilantha must have taken me to my official residence on Paget Road. But I can’t accept that I talked so much.

President’s Counsel: “The Director of the State Intelligence Service has been informed by the Foreign Intelligence Unit that an attack will take place tomorrow or the day before last year’s Easter Sunday terrorist attack at 4.12 pm. After that, at 6.16 pm, Mr. Nilantha Jayawardena called you.”

Ex- President: “Despite the reports, I was receiving treatment inside a Singapore hospital at the time. I had previously told this commission that I had been informed about the bombing after the bombings. No one had told me about it before.”

President’s Counsel: “Although you said you were being treated at a Singapore hospital on the evening of the 20th and you did not use the phone, these reports state that a large number of calls were made to the mobile phone in the hand of your personal security guard who was in Singapore with you, through the house on Paget Road that day.”

Ex- President: “I am telling the truth. I was being treated at a Singapore hospital that day. It is not appropriate to explain the situation I was in at the time as the media is present here.”

President’s Counsel: “If so tell me. Nilantha Jayawardena received a one-minute, 38-second call across Paget Road from your phone in Singapore at 7.49 am before the first bombing in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, the day of the terrorist attack. What do you say about that? “

Ex- President: “I do not accept what was said in the reports. I was not able to speak according to the situation I was in at the time. I am telling the truth. I will submit medical reports if necessary.”

President’s Counsel: “Mr. President, although you say you had trouble speaking on the morning of the attack, but there were reports of a large number of calls from your phone that morning.”

The former President said that the reports could be mentioned but he rejects them.

“Right now you are saying that you had difficulty in speaking on the day of the attack. If you had such difficulty before the attack, how could you have taken 07 consecutive calls after this attack,” the President’s Counsel questioned again.

However, President’s Counsel Maithree Gunaratne, who is representing former President Maithripala Sirisena in the commission, obstructed the extensive questioning by President’s Counsel Shamil Perera and accused him of asking the same question.

However, President’s Counsel Shamil Perera asked President’s Counsel Maithri Gunaratne to sit quietly as it was his turn to ask questions.

“If you were in such a bad condition, how did you come to the island suddenly in the middle of the night on the day of the attack?” President’s Counsel representing the Cardinal asked.

In response, former President Maithripala Sirisena said that medical reports could be submitted if necessary, but the Additional Solicitor General of the Government who was present at the meeting objected to the question being asked.

However, the Chairman of the Presidential Commission ordered the former President to submit the medical records, although they are confidential, to the Commission when media is not present.

Concluding his cross-examination, President’s Counsel Shamil Perera, appearing for the Archbishop, sugested: “Aren’t you the responsible person behind the failure to prevent this attack that has claimed nearly 300 lives, including the Catholics?”

However, the former President rejected the suggestion.



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