I was not aware of Zaharan being used as a spy – Sirisena
By Buddhika Samaraweera
The Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the 21 April 2019, Easter Sunday Bombings, questioned former President Maithripala Sirisena about the alleged use of National Thowheed Jama’ath Leader, Zaharan Hashim, as a Government spy during the tenure of the United National Front Government.
Former President Sirisena was testifying before the Commission, yesterday (14).
An Additional Solicitor General initially questioned Sirisena whether former Western Province Governor Azath Salley had ever complained to him about Zaharan’s activities. In response, the witness said he had been informed by Salley that Zaharan’s conduct was not good. Referring to a statement made by Salley, while testifying before the Commission, the Additional Solicitor General again questioned Sirisena whether Salley had complained about Zaharan’s activities on several occasions. Adding that Salley had informed him of this on several occasions, Sirisena said every time he complained about Zaharan, he, as the President and Minister of Defence, took steps to advise the authorities and officials and discuss the matter at National Security Council (NSC) meetings.
“If necessary steps had been taken, would there have been a need to complain about Zaharan’s activities on a number of occasions,” the Additional Solicitor General then queried and Sirisena, in response, said there were differences and certain conflicts between the various organisations in the Muslim community.
The Additional Solicitor General again queried the witness as to whether he had spoken to someone over the phone on one occasion that Salley had complained about Zaharan, and Sirisena said he did not remember such an incident.
“If Salley had told the Commission that he felt that Zaharan was being used as a Government spy based on what you said on that phone call, what would you think of it?” the Additional Solicitor General questioned. In reply, Sirisena said he was not aware of Zaharan being used as a Government spy during his tenure.
Also, Maithri Gunaratne PC, appearing for Sirisena, informed the Commission that it was not fair to ask such a question from the witness, since the question was based on something that Salley had felt. However, the Additional Solicitor General said the witness had already answered her question and the Commission said the question was asked simply because some of the evidence provided by Salley referred to Sirisena.