Malalgoda Committee Report contains fabrications
By Buddhika Samaraweera
Former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando claimed that the report of the Committee headed by Supreme Court Judge, Justice Vijith Malalgoda, appointed by former President Maithripala Sirisena, to investigate the 21 April 2019, Easter Sunday Attacks, contained statements that he did not make.
Fernando also said although Sirisena recently said he left for Singapore on 16 April 2019 to receive treatment at a hospital, Sirisena did not seem to be ill when he left the country.
He was testifying before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Easter Sunday Attacks, on 19 October.
Attorney-at-Law Dilshan Jayasuriya, appearing for Fernando, drew the Commission’s attention to the Malalgoda Committee, which was first appointed by Sirisena to investigate the Easter Sunday Attacks, and to the evidence given by his client, Fernando.
Initiating the testimony, Fernando said the appointment of the former Inspector General of Police (IGP) N.K. Illangakoon, who was the IGP during the time of the uprising of National Thowheed Jama’ath Leader Zaharan Hashim’s extremist activities, and Padmasiri Jayamanne, who was the Secretary to the Ministry of Law and Order at that time, to the Malalgoda Committee was unethical.
“Some of the statements, that are recorded as evidence given by me, in the final report of the Malalgoda Committee, have not been recorded accurately. At no point was my signature taken to attest that the evidence given by me was correct. This Committee report should have been given within two weeks. But how could it be possible to hand over a report on such an incident within just two weeks. I clearly say that there are things in it that I did not say,” he said.
Counsel Jayasuriya then questioned as to whether Sirisena had made a public statement that Fernando and former IGP Pujith Jayasundara should take responsibility for the attack. In response, Fernando said even before the Malalgoda Committee report was presented, Sirisena had said he (Fernando) and then Jayasundara were responsible for not preventing the attack.
Fernando said: “Through that statement, Sirisena further emphasised that Jayasundara and I had not informed him about that Intelligence information. However, not a single day during my tenure did I inform Sirisena on Intelligence information. It was usually done by the Director of the State Intelligence Service (SIS), Senior DIG Nilantha Jayawardena.”
He also said the Intelligence information on a possible terror attack should have been mentioned in the weekly Intelligence report prepared by the SIS. “If that happened, all those who needed to know about it, including the Chief of National Intelligence (CNI) and the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) could have gained an understanding of it. Also, necessary steps could have been taken,” he added.
He also said the report submitted by the SIS to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID) on 19 April 2019 had not been sent to him, adding that if it had been sent, everyone could have been summoned to discuss and implement a plan.
During your tenure, did the Director of the SIS, Jayawardena recommend to the National Security Council (NSC) that Zaharan be arrested, Jayasuriya queried the witness, and Fernando, in reply, said he does not remember Jayawardena making such a recommendation. I do not know if it was recommended before I took over duties, he also said.
He also said the SIS had not provided him with any reports regarding the possibility of an attack between 4 and 20 April 2019.
Responding to a question as to whether Jayawardena had requested for an opportunity to meet him, the witness said no such request was made. He was allowed to meet me at any time without such a request. Not only him, but also the CNI and the CDS were allowed to meet me at any time, he said.