Easter Attacks PCoI: Weakness in entire system exposed – Pujith
By Buddhika Samaraweera
Former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Pujith Jayasundara, said the failure to prevent the 21 April 2019, Easter Sunday Bombings, was a failure of the collective effort and a weakness in the entire system.
He also said the bombings could have been prevented if the then Minister of Defence and President Maithripala Sirisena and the National Security Council (NSC) had acted appropriately on the foreign information received to the effect that National Thowheed Jama’ath (NTJ) Leader Zaharan Hashim and his followers could launch a terrorist attack.
Jayasundara was testifying before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Easter Sunday Bombings, yesterday (21).
He also said due to certain incidents, the former Director of the State Intelligence Service (SIS), Senior DIG Nilantha Jayawardena was observed to have reduced contacting him (Jayasundara).
Anil Silva PC, appearing for Sirisena, Attorney-at-Law Upul Kumarapperuma, appearing for the former SDIG of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Ravi Seneviratne and former CID Director Shani Abeysekera, and Attorney Madu Jayatilake, appearing for SDIG Jayawardena cross-examined the witness.
Attorney Jayatilake questioned the witness as to whether he had informed four senior Police officials under him over the phone after SDIG Jayawardena informed him about the foreign information regarding a possible terror attack, on 9 April 2019. In response, Jayasundara said he had contacted the officials over the phone and informed them. However, he said the phone calls made by him were not mentioned in the telephone phone data records and that it was a serious problem as to how it happened. An Additional Solicitor General also informed the Commission that details pertaining to those four calls are not mentioned in the reports. "Officers had been deployed to find out about my whereabouts before and after I was sent on compulsory leave. When I was going somewhere in a vehicle, motorcyclists followed me. It was in such a situation that I was on duty,” he also said.
Silva PC questioned the waitness as to whether he accepted that the bombings could not have been prevented due to the fact that the Police did not pay much attention to the information that Zaharan and his group could launch a terrorist attack. In response, Jayasundara said he completely denies it. He said all possible steps had been taken with regard to the information in accordance with the powers vested in the Police. He added that there were some shortcomings in certain areas. However, he said the Police, as a whole, acted in a satisfactory manner with regard to the information.
He also said he hoped that the SIS would provide precise intelligence information on the foreign information, and that the attack could have been prevented if the Minister of Defence and the NSC had paid adequate attention.
When queried whether most of the Police Officers were on leave at the time of receiving the foreign information, Jayasundara said that it was normal for Police Officers to take leave.
Silva PC also questioned the witness as to why he did not inform about this intelligence information when Sirisena left for Batticaloa on 12 April 2019 to attend a function. Jayasundara, in reply, said security assessment reports are normally prepared by the SIS before the President leaves for such a visit. In such a situation, the Director of the SIS should have informed the President about this information, he said.