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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Sri Lanka: Cop who failed to prevent Easter bombings to be made IGP – SJB

Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) spokesperson Mujibur Rahuman, MP, yesterday (08) asked the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa government whether it intended to appoint Senior DIG Nilantha Jayawardena, one of those who had been accused of failing to thwart the 2019 Easter Sunday carnage, as the next Inspector General of Police (IGP).

MP Rahuman said that Jayawardena’s appointment as the IGP seemed certain as the latter had been appointed Senior DIG, Administration, the number two slot in the police hierarchy. Jayawardena received the new appointment following Senior DIG Nandana Munasinghe’s retirement.

Rahuman said that the government owed an explanation as to how Jayawardena, who served as the Chief of State Intelligence Service (SIS), moved up the ladder without facing an internal inquiry over the worst-ever single security lapse in the post-war era.

Near simultaneous suicide blasts that targeted three Churches and three hotels claimed the lives of 270 people. Over 500 received injuries. Some of them were maimed for life.

Responding to another query, MP Rahuman said that he had taken up the issue in parliament on January 05, but that had not received sufficient media coverage. “Justice Minister Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakske, PC, didn’t respond though he was in Parliament. Public Security Minister Tiran Alles was not present at that time.”

The incumbent police chief C.D. Wickramaratne received an acting appointment as the IGP in April 2019 close on the heels of the Easter Sunday attacks, and received confirmation in the post on Nov 25, 2020, just over a week after Gotabaya Rajapaksa won the presidential election.

MP Rahuman said that the perpetrators of the heinous crime, those who had facilitated the operation as well as neglected their duties and responsibilities should be punished regardless of their standing in the society.

The lawmaker challenged the government to prove that action had been taken in respect of serving law enforcement officers probed by a five-member Presidential Commission. “We are sure, the Yahapalana government which I served, the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration and now the Wickremesinghe-Rajapaksa regime did absolutely nothing. In fact, the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Easter Sunday massacre has been discarded. That is the undeniable truth,” MP Rahuman said.MP Rahuman emphasized that none of the Commission’s major recommendations were implemented.

Supreme Court judge Janak de Silva headed the Commission. It included Court of Appeal judge Nishshanka Bandula Karunaratne, retired Supreme Court judges Nihal Sunil Rajapaksha and A. L. Bandula Kumara Atapattu and former Secretary to the Ministry of Justice W. M. M. R. Adhikari H. M. P. Buwaneka Herath functioned as the Secretary to the Commission.

MP Rahuman said that the Commission found fault with the then Secretary Defence Hemasiri Fernando, Chief of National Intelligence (CNI) retired DIG Sisira Mendis and SIS Chief Nilantha Jaywardena for the unprecedented security lapse in spite of having specific intelligence pertaining to the planned attacks. Well over three years after the suicide blasts, the devastating operation remained a mystery, MP Rahuman said, questioning the very basis of the Easter Sunday investigations.

The SJB official asked how the public could believe in police investigations when one of the chief culprits received the appointment as Senior DIG, Administration and was most likely to succeed the incumbent IGP.

Referring to the Easter Sunday Commission’s final report (Vol. 1 pages 287-288), MP Rahuman said that the Commission asserted that there is criminal liability on Jayawardena’s part. The Commission recommended that the Attorney General considers initiating criminal proceedings against the former SIS Chief under any suitable provision in the Penal Code, the MP said.

The lawmaker said that a similar recommendation was made in respect of the ex-head of CNI.The former AG Dappula de Livera, PC, and his successor Sanjiva Rajaratnam, PC, should be asked to explain whether they at least considered the Commission’s recommendations, MP Rahuman said. It would be pertinent to ask whether the AG’s Department acted on the Commission’s recommendations pertaining to its officers, the MP said.

Alleging that the successive governments had covered up the Easter Sunday plot, MP Rahuman pointed out that even Senior DIG Nandana Munasinghe whose retirement paved the way for Jayawardena to take up the No 02 slot was named by the Commission as one of the culprits. According to the Commission’s final report (Vol. 1, P 312), the Commission asserted that there is criminal liability on the then Senior DIG, Western Province Munasinghe’s part. The Commission recommended that criminal proceedings should be initiated against Munasinghe under any suitable provision in the Penal Code, MP Rahuman said.

The outspoken MP said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe promised to involve Scotland Yard in the Easter Sunday probe. “We would like to know the status of the government bid to secure Scotland Yard support or was it part of the overall cover-up?” the MP asked.

Shamindra Ferdinando / The Island


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