Connect with us

News

Cardinal’s counsel questions Sirisena on numerous calls with SIS head

Published

on

by Rathindra Kuruwita

A 159-second telephone conversation took place between former President Maithripala Sirisena and former Director of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) SDIG Nilantha Jayawardena from 7.59 a.m. on April 21, 2019, prior to the Easter Sunday bombings, the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks was informed on Saturday.

It was also revealed that another telephone conversation on April 20, 2019 at 6.16 pm had also taken place between the two. Earlier it was revealed that around 20 telephone conversations had taken place between Sirisena and Jayawardena from April 4 to 21, 2019.

April 04, 2019 was the day when Jayawardena received a warning of a possible terror attack from a foreign counterpart.

The details of the calls were revealed when the former President was cross-examined by President’s Counsel Shamil Perera, appearing for the Archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith.

Perera asked the witness whether he had been in constant contact with Jayawardena over the phone. In response Sirisena said that he would not agree that there had been frequent telephone conversations between him and Jayawardena.

Perera then showed the former president a list of calls that had been place between Jayewardena and the former President from January 01 to March 31, 2019. The list contained over 200 calls. Sirisena, after referring to the document, said he did not remember such a large number of conversations with the former SIS Director.

“I do not even use a mobile phone. So, this document should be examined further,” Sirisena said.

When asked if the document contained details of calls from six telephone numbers at the former President’s official residence on Paget Road, Sirisena answered in the affirmative.

The document showed that a total of 221 telephone calls had taken place between Sirisena and Jayawardena from January to April 2019. Sirisena said he probably had not received all those phone calls.

“These are records of calls to and from my official residence or to the Presidential Secretariat. But I don’t think I answered all these calls. I would not have answered these calls if I had been at Cabinet meetings and other events and I was attending such meetings,” Sirisena said.

“Do you, as a practice, consult the former SIS Director on your security and the threats you had to face?” the counsel asked. Sirisena said that there were occasions when such consultations were made.

Perera then asked Sirisena whether Jayewardena had given him a call around 6.16pm on 20 April. Sirisena said he had been receiving treatment in a Singaporean hospital at that time and not even his personal security officers had access to him on that day.

Perera then said that the telephone records clearly stated that Sirisena had called the former SIS Director around 7.59am on 21 April, 2019 before the Easter Sunday attacks. Sirisena had earlier said that he first contacted Jayewardena only after the bombings.

The President’s Counsel told the Commission that despite Sirisena’s statement the phone records showed that Sirisena had made a large number of telephone calls on April 21 morning.

“I don’t know what is mentioned in this report but I was in hospital on the morning of April 21. It was not possible for me to make phone calls while undergoing treatment. I came back to the hotel and then heard about the attacks.”

Perera also said about seven telephone calls had been exchanged between Sirisena and the SIS Director after the bombings. The counsel said that a 133- second telephone call had taken place between Sirisena and Jayawardena on 21 April at 8.58 am, a 184-second telephone call at 9.13 a.m., and a 688-second telephone call at 1.10 p.m.

Perera also asked Sirisena how he had made these calls if he was feeling extremely sick.

“I was still weak but this was a serious development. I made a series of calls and advised all including the Prime Minister, the Inspector General of Police and the Tri- forces Commanders, to take necessary action,” Sirisena said.

Perera also asked how Sirisena had returned to Sri Lanka on the same night if his medical condition had been so serious. In response, the former President said that the relevant medical reports could be submitted to the Commission.

Perera also questioned Sirisena on a statement made by the former Director of the SIS, before the Commission, that between 10,000 and 15,000 people knew about the foreign report that the State Intelligence Service (SIS) had received on April 04, 2019 about a possible terrorist attack. Jayawardena said that by April 09, former IGP Pujith Jayasundara had informed the STF and the STF had about 5,000 personnel. The officers that provide security to VIPs too were informed. There were about 800 such officers.

The police in the Western Province too had been informed and there were about 8,000 such personnel, he said. Jayawardena said he had conveyed information about the possible attack to a number of senior officials, including former Defence Secretary, Hemasiri Fernando and CNI Sisira Mendis. Jayasundara had also forwarded the report to SDIG of Western Province, Nandana Munasinghe, SDIG crimes and STF M.R. Latif, DIG special protection range Priyalal Dassanayake and Director of the Terrorism Investigation Division, Waruna Jayasundara.

Sirisena said that although it might be true, his Chief Security Officer, DIG Rohan Silva had been unaware of it.

President’s Counsel: You were the President and Minister of Defence, none of the 15, 000 security personnel and other senior officials told you about the attack?”

Witness- “No one informed me.”

When Sirisena took over as President and Defence Minister he had been entrusted with the responsibility for protecting the people of the country by providing them security. However the attack showed that he had clearly failed in his duties, Counsel Perera said.

“I do not accept that. Terrorist attacks took place when other Presidents were running the country. No one asked this question from them,” Sirisena said.

Perera then asked Sirisena if he accepted that he had endangered the Catholic people by neglecting his responsibilities and that he had been trying to evade responsibility by blaming others.

Earlier former IGP Pujith Jayasundara told the PCoI that President Maithripala Sirisena on April, 24, 2019, had told him that if he took the blame for the Easter Sunday bombings, Jayasundara would be given a pension and an ambassador’s post to a country of his choice.

“I am deeply shocked about what happened but I am not finding any scapegoats,” Sirisena said, adding that he not believe that the report of the Parliamentary Select Committee which investigated the bombings on Easter Sunday was independent or accurate. “When I was asked to appear before the PSC, I did not go and instead, I informed them to come to the Presidential Secretariat and asked them to meet me if necessary. They came and recorded a statement from me. Former Army Commander, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka a member of the PSC harbours animosity towards me. The same can be said about some other members of the PSC. I, therefore, did not accept the proceedings of that PSC,” Sirisena added.



Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

News

Delisting of Tamil Diaspora groups irks some; explanation sought

Published

on

Decision based on GoSL assurance given in Geneva last June

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera yesterday (14) said President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government should explain the rationale behind delisting several Tamil Diaspora groups and individuals.

“The timing of the government announcement really worries us,” Dr. Amarasekera said on behalf of the Federation of National Organizations (FNO). He said such moves couldn’t be simply justified on the basis of the forthcoming sessions of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council. The next UNHRC sessions are scheduled for September.

Recalling that he too strongly backed the stand taken by President Wickremesinghe with regard to US Ambassador Julie Chung’s opposition to measures the government adopted to counter violent protests, Dr. Amarasekera emphasised national security couldn’t be jeopardised by politically-motivated decisions.  The Defence and Foreign Ministries owed the public an explanation as regards the procedure adopted in delisting some Tamil diaspora groups and individuals.

The UK-based Global Tamil Forum (GTF), the British Tamil Forum (BTF) and the Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) had been among those delisted, through an Extraordinary Gazette issued by the Ministry of Defence.National Freedom Front (NFF) spokesperson Mohammed Muzammil, MP, too, echoed Dr. Amarasekera’s concerns. Addressing a hastily arranged media briefing at NFF’s Pita Kotte party office, lawmaker Muzammil asked whether the government had received an undertaking from those delisted groups, and individuals, whether they would abandon the separatist agenda. Lawmaker Muzammil said President Wickremesinghe, who holds the defence portfolio, should address the concerns of those who felt betrayed by the disputed de-listing of those who propagated separatist ideology though the armed forces eradicated the LTTE in 2009.

Both Dr. Amarasekera and MP Muzammil pointed out that Tamil Makkal Theshiya Kutani leader C.V. Vignewaran, following a recent meeting with President Wickremesinghe, had declared that he received an assurance with regard to several of their demands.  They asked whether the de-listing of these organizations, and individuals, had been part of the agreement between Tamil political parties and President Wickremesinghe.

The Island

sought the views of Suren Surendiran of the GTF, who is among those delisted. The UK-based GTF spokesperson alleged that the entire process of designation of groups and individuals was arbitrary, irrational, and an outright abuse of the United Nations Regulations – aimed at suppressing freedom of speech and dissent, not just within Sri Lanka but also across the borders.

 “GTF and I were listed in 2014, delisted in 2015, re-listed in 2021 and re-delisted in 2022,” Surendiran said, declaring they remained committed to their original ideals meant to achieve justifiable aspirations of the Tamil-speaking people, and implementation of the 2015 accountability resolution.

Surendiran has sent us the following response:   “Every time when a resolution is passed at the UNHRC, calling for Accountability and Reconciliation, the Rajapaksas, be it Mahinda or Gotabaya, will proscribe us as an angry reaction and then realise that no other government or international institution, including progressive Sri Lankans of all communities, and the wider media, recognise these proscriptions and just before another UNHRC session, the sitting government will de-proscribe us. This has been the case since 2014.”

“GTF is grateful that the international community and many Sri Lankan stakeholders (including the media) ignored this listing for what it truly was.

“We did an estimation on the loss of foreign currency inward flow into Sri Lanka directly related to these proscriptions of 2014 and 2021, at least per annum the loss has been USD 300 mn to   half a billion dollars.

Former Presidents Mahinda Rajapaksa, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Secretary of Defence Kamal Gunaratne, Former Foreign Minister G L Peiris and the notorious so called “terrorism expert” Rohan Gunaratna must explain these losses to the Sri Lankan people and held accountable for their arbitrary decisions and explain what benefits these proscriptions achieved.”

Authoritative sources said that contrary to concerns expressed by various iparties as regards the delisting of organizations and certain individuals, the decision to do so was announced by the former Foreign Affairs Minister Prof GL Peiris in mid-June this year at the 50th Geneva sessions. The Foreign Ministry quoted Prof. Peiris as having said: “The list of designated individuals, groups and entities under the United Nations Regulation No. 1 of 2012 is being reviewed. As of now 318 individuals and 04 entitles are proposed to be delisted. This is a continuing exercise.”

Sources said that it wouldn’t be fair to seek explanation from the incumbent government for a decision taken by the previous administration.

Continue Reading

News

Govt. trying to impress UNHRC – Vigneswaran

Published

on

Tamil Peoples’ National Alliance (TPNA) leader MP C. V. Vigneswaran says President Ranil Wickremesinghe is in a hurry to rope in Tamil MPs w,ith an eye to the upcoming UNHRC session.

In a statement after meeting President Wickremesinghe the MP says: “He appeared to be in a hurry to rope in Jaffna MPs to be part of the Government, I suppose to showcase to Geneva! I don’t blame him. The Government has so far ignored its obligations to the UN as per Resolution 46/1. Although the President assured us that he will take action to implement our requests and invited us to join the Government, we felt the impending Geneva meeting was more important to him than solving the Tamils’ Problems.”

Full text of Wigneswaran’s statement: At the invitation of the President, I met his Excellency, along with our Party senior member Mr. S. Selvendra, at 4.30 PM, on 10th August 2022 at the Presidential Secretariat. The Prime Minister was also present.

The President explained to us at length his plan of governance which included a Parliamentary governance committee giving a greater role for the Provincial Governors. His idea was that all MPs from the Provinces must govern the respective Provinces under the Chairmanship of the Governors in terms of a National Agenda. He referred to Austria as an example. (His example was inappropriate. Austria is a Federal Country).

Further discussing grabbing of lands in Provinces by Central Government Ministries he agreed that there should be no forestry land that should be grabbed by Ministries and that we should focus on preserving the environment in each Province. He said, if need be a maximum of 2 acres could be taken over by the Government. I said no land should be appropriated by the Central Government in the Provinces except with the consent and concurrence of the respective Provincial Government. There was no response from His Excellency.

Regarding National Schools, he said 50 National Schools were enough for the Country not 1000 National Schools. I pointed out that no Provincial Schools could be taken over by the State and that our Alliance has already filed action in this regard.He appeared to be in a hurry to rope in Jaffna MPs to be part of the Government, I suppose to showcase to Geneva! I don’t blame him. The Government has so far ignored its obligations to the UN as per Resolution 46/1.

He wanted me to share a document which outlines the proposal on how money could be channeled into the Country from the Diaspora.It became apparent to us while discussing with him that his plan was to strengthen the central administrative control of the entire country, totally ignoring the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

I pointed out to the President that the Tamil people in this country expect the government to take speedy action to attend to their requests, submitted by all Tamil National party leaders which included the release of political prisoners; action to trace the missing persons; stop the activities of various government departments to grab Tamil lands and stop persons trying to build Buddhist temples in Tamil homeland with the help of the Military and so on.

It was also pointed out that in order to enable the Tamils to give political leadership and governance over their Provinces, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution should be implemented in full as a temporary measure until satisfactory constitutional reforms are made. We told the President that until this process is started in earnest satisfying the Tamil people, we will support the Government from the Opposition. There was no question of our becoming a part of the Government.

Although the President assured us that he will take action to implement our requests and invited us to join the Government, we felt the impending Geneva meeting was more important to him than solving the Tamils’ Problems.Nevertheless, we promised to forward the document he called for and took our leave to depart.

Continue Reading

News

 Arms, drug seizure from Lankan boat: Accused raised funds to revive LTTE, says NIA

Published

on

KOCHI: In a major revelation in a case pertaining to the seizure of a huge quantity of narcotic drugs along with five AK-47 rifles and 9mm ammunition numbering 1,000 from Sri Lankan fishing boats, the NIA has stated that an accused had been involved in activities of proscribed terrorist organisation LTTE within India and abroad.

The accused had also plotted to procure prohibited arms and ammunition, besides contraband articles. The NIA filed the report in the Kerala High Court in response to the bail plea filed by Ramesh, a Sri Lankan native and eighth accused in the case.

The Coast Guard intercepted the boat, ‘Ravihansi’, near Minicoy Island, Lakshadweep, on March 18, 2021. There were no proper documents and six Sri Lankan nationals found on board were arrested by the Kochi sub zone of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on their arrival at Vizhinjam port in Thiruvananthapuram.The Central government directed the NIA to take over the probe and later the seventh and his brother and eighth accused were taken into custody, allegedly for being members of the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Ramesh revealed that he had stayed in India without a visa violating the provisions of the Foreigners Act.

According to NIA, Ramesh and the other accused, including his brother being a core cadre of the LTTE, held secret meetings and conspired to carry out illegal activities of trafficking in drugs and also arms and ammunition with the intention of raising funds to revive and further the activities of the LTTE, both in India and Sri Lanka, They formed a terrorist gang and transferred money through hawala channels for the procurement of drugs, arms and ammunition.

A witness in the case also spoke of the drug and hawala business carried out by the brothers and specifically referred to Ramesh having collected hawala money from a person named Faseel Bhai. While dismissing Ramesh’s bail plea, the court noted that the statements of the witnesses show not only his inextricable connection with the illegal activities but also his definite link with LTTE, with full knowledge and complicity in the attempt to smuggle heroin, arms and ammunition in the boat, intercepted before its entry into the port.

Continue Reading

Trending