AG Dept. to probe if IGP & ex-Defence Secretary were on Zahran’s payroll

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The Attorney General told the Colombo High Court that the State Intelligence Service had submitted 347 reports on Zahran Hashim and National Thowheed Jama’ath (NTJ) to IGP Pujith Jayasundara and former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando from 2016 to April 21st, 2019.

Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris, representing the Attorney General, stated this when the revision application filed by the Attorney General requesting the court to suspend the order that granted bail to the police chief and former Defence Secretary was taken up before the Colombo High Court Judge Vikum Kaluarachchi yesterday (06).

The Deputy Solicitor General told the court that 131 of the reports on Zahran Hashim and the NTJ were directed to the IGP while 97 of them were submitted to the former Defence Secretary.

It appears that despite receiving this many intelligence reports on the ringleader of Easter Sunday terror attacks and his group, Jayasundara and Fernando have not bothered to go through them, the Deputy Solicitor General said.

The SIS first received intelligence information on the Easter Sunday terror attacks on the 4th of April, the Deputy Solicitor General said, adding that state intelligence chief Nilantha Jayewardene had immediately directed them to the attention of the IGP and former Defence Secretary.

During the Intelligence Review Meeting held on the 9th of April, the duo had not discussed the matter and the steps that should have been taken to prevent the carnage, although they had received forewarnings on possible terror attacks, the Deputy Solicitor General alleged.

The IGP did not take measures to inform the public on the warnings, the Deputy Solicitor General said further, pointing out that casualties could have been prevented had the IGP acted on the information received.

He said it is surprising that the IGP approved the leave application for the DIG of Colombo division, DIG of Special Task Force (SFT), DIG of Negombo division even after receiving such sensitive information.

Deputy Solicitor General alleged that IGP and former Defence Secretary were accordingly a part of the Zahran Hashim’s conspiracy to cause massive carnage on Easter Sunday while stressing on conducting an investigation to find out if the duo were on Zahran Hashim’s payroll as well.

Presenting submissions further, the Deputy Solicitor General criticized Colombo Chief Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne’s decision to grant bail to Jayasundara and Fernando and pointed out that she has completely disregarded the detailed B Report submitted to the court by the police on the evidence that led to the arrest of the duo and the charges laid against them.

He said Jayasundara and Fernando were granted bail based only on the oral submissions presented by the defendants while stressing that the chief magistrate does not have the jurisdiction to release a suspect who is charged with murder under Article 296 of the Penal Code.

Hence, the Deputy Solicitor General requested the court to void the chief magistrate’s order that granted bail to the two defendants.

Speaking on behalf of Hemasiri Fernando, President’s Counsel Anuja Premaratne alleged that the SIS chief Nilantha Jayewardene had not spoken up about the intelligence information received regarding the attacks during the Intelligence Review Meeting.

PC Premaratne further claimed the SIS chief had not provided his client any intelligence information on the attacks other than the forewarning received from India on April 4th.

He also dismissed the Deputy Solicitor General’s claims that 97 intelligence reports were directed to his client.

PC Premaratne pointed out that his client is merely a secretary to the ministry vested with powers just like any other ministerial secretary. He said the defence secretary is not vested with any special authority to work independently.

The Colombo High Court subsequently moved further hearing of the revision application to September 19th and 20th.