Sirisena never ordered arrest of Zaharan
By Buddhika Samaraweera
Although former President Maithripala Sirisena said he had given instructions at the National Security Council (NSC) meeting in January 2019 to arrest National Thowheed Jama’ath Leader Zaharan Hashim, he had never given such an instruction, said former Defence Secretary, Hemasiri Fernando.
He was testifying before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the 21 April 2019, Easter Sunday Bombings, yesterday (13).
Meanwhile, Shamil Perera PC, appearing for the Archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, questioned the witness as to why the NSC did not convene until 22 April, after its meeting held on 19 February 2019.
In response, Fernando said he did not know the reason. “The decision to convene the NSC is usually made by the President. I, as the Defence Secretary, only facilitate it. So I don’t know what the reasons were for not holding it,” he said.
When queried as to why the information that a group including Zaharan could launch terror attacks was not conveyed to Sirisena, Fernando said informing Sirisena on Intelligence related information was usually done by the Director of the State Intelligence Service (SIS).
“According to the legal background, the Secretary to the Ministry should inform the Minister about certain matters. But the then SIS Director and I came to an agreement that he would provide Intelligence related information to Sirisena,” he added.