Easter attacks case: Former SIS Chief gives evidence

By Hansi Nanayakkara | Published: 2:00 AM Nov 24 2021
News Easter attacks case: Former SIS Chief gives evidence

By Hansi Nanayakkara

Former State Intelligence Service Chief Nilantha Jayawardene, giving evidence before the three-Judge Bench of the Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar yesterday, stated he submitted a list of names of 94 people, who had harboured extremist views, to the Defence Secretary who was in office in 2017.

Jayawardene gave evidence as the first witness for the prosecution, in the case filed against ex-Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and former IGP Pujith Jayasundara, who have been indicted with having failed to prevent the 2019 Easter Sunday terror attacks and complicity to murder, despite being forewarned of the attacks.

The two cases were heard by a Bench comprising High Court Judges Namal Balalle, Adithya Patabendige and Mohammad Irshadeen.

Deputy Solicitors General Dileepa Peiris and Sudarshana de Silva represented the Attorney General. Jayawardene further mentioned that he had been attached to the SIS since 2000 holding various positions and noted that as per his job profile he was not into arresting suspects.

He stated that he had always worked according to his identity and job criteria. He pointed out that while being attached to the SIS he had once received training in Israel and insisted that whenever intelligence information is received such details had always been conveyed to either the IGP or the Defence Secretary in office at the time.

Jayawardene told the Court that he had served with six different Defence Secretaries during his term in office and said that he had worked with ex-Defence Secretary Fernando for around six to seven months.

He explained that on each Tuesday he had discussed intelligence reports with his superiors. The former SIS head said that such reports are also submitted to the Defence Secretary, the Joint Chief of Staff, three Commanders of the Armed Forces, head of the SIS as well as to those at the helm of the PSD.

He also told the Court that plans had been made to sign agreements with 27 countries in order to obtain intelligence information and exchange them with those countries besides gathering intelligence information domestically.

Jayawardene stressed that only a few Security Council meetings had been held in 2019. 

DSG de Silva asked Jayawardene when he had received information linked to those that had propagated ISIS ideals.

The witness mentioned that four reports had been received by him from 2009 up to 2015 and opined that at the time the ISIS network had been operating strongly globally.

He then remarked that they had also received information related to several youths who had begun to move to Syria at the time.

Jayawardene observed that afterwards those youths had been advised to remain in Sri Lanka and propagate the ISIS ideology due to attacks being directed at Syria from 2015 to 2016.

The DSG inquired from the witness as to how the process of conveying intelligence reports to Defence Secretaries takes place at times when such people tend to leave their posts.

Responding to it, the former SIS head stated that under such situations they are compelled to brief the new Defence Secretaries from the outset.

The prosecution submitted a few documents to the Court and the defence, which were in possession of the Attorney General, connected to the case filed against the former Defence Secretary.

However, the defence sought time to inspect the documents and the Court put off proceedings for today.

By Hansi Nanayakkara | Published: 2:00 AM Nov 24 2021

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