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Friday, February 23, 2024

Sirisena & the arrest of DIG Nakala Silva, that derailed investigation on Easter bombing mastermind Saharan

It defies comprehension why legal action is ever instituted against anyone if there is no irrefutable evidence to prove charges against him or her. But those who wield political power in this country have their rivals prosecuted according to their whims and fancies, and the politically-motivated cases subsequently collapse for want of credible evidence.

Former DIG Nalaka de Silva has been released from a much-publicised case that was filed against him over an alleged plot to carry out political assassinations during the Yahapalana government. The Attorney General has informed court that evidence against de Silva is insufficient.

De Silva, who headed the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID), was arrested in 2018, following a complaint by a person named Namal Kumara, a self-styled anti-corruption activist, that the former had conspired to kill the then President Maithripala Sirisena and former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Sirisena had wide publicity given to Namal Kumara’s claim and ordered legal action against de Silva. Not many bought into Namal Kumara’s claim, though.

If there had been no irrefutable evidence against de Silva, he should not have been arrested and remanded. Why was legal action instituted against him without sufficient evidence? Did the state prosecutor act on mere hearsay or at the behest of the political authority at the time?

Now, all those who accused de Silva of conspiring to kill Sirisena and Gotabaya and had him interdicted and arrested must be held to account. They misled the public. Above all, President Sirisena cited the alleged plot to assassinate him as the reason for his decision to sack Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the UNP-led government in 2018. He insisted that there was evidence to prove his claim, and his life was in danger. He had the public believe that if he had not sacked the UNP-led regime, he would not have survived!

Sirisena also claimed that an informant had revealed that a Cabinet minister was involved in the assassination plot, but he, true to form, stopped short of naming names. All Sri Lankan Presidents are in the habit of making such allegations. Ironically, Sirisena, who severed ties with the UNP, claiming that his life was in danger, is now in the same government as Wickremesinghe!

After winning the presidency, Sirisena also accused the Rajapaksas of having sought to harm him. But three years later he joined forces with them and appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa Prime Minister. Today, we have Sirisena, the Rajapaksas and Wickremesinghe savouring power together. So much for the credibility of Sirisena’s claims!

It is being argued in some quarters that President Sirisena’s hostility towards de Silva and the latter’s arrest had an adverse impact on national security as they hampered the TID’s anti-terrorism operations. It may be recalled that de Silva, testifying before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry which probed the Easter Sunday carnage, said that by the time he was interdicted, plans were in place to arrest National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ) leader Zahran Hashim, who led the Easter Sunday attacks and perished in one of them in April 2019. He also accused the CID of having exerted undue influence on the TID. His claims have gone uninvestigated.

De Silva’s contention that his arrest stood in the way of the TID’s investigations into the activities of the NTJ is an indictment of Sirisena and others who pushed for legal action against him.

It will be interesting to know Sirisena’s reaction to the release of de Silva and the Attorney General’s admission that sufficient evidence is not available for him to proceed with the case against the ex-TID chief.

The Island Editorial 07.12.23

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