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Ex-IGP says he was at his official residence at the time of Easter Sunday attacks

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The police had not come up with a plan to deal with an impending terrorist attack after the State Intelligence Service (SIS) had received foreign intelligence, on April 04, 2019 that National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zahran Hashim and his associates would carry out an attack, former IGP Pujith Jayasundara on Saturday told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) into the Easter Sunday attacks.

Earlier the Additional Solicitor General (ASG,) who led evidence asked the witness if the police had prepared a contingency plan to face emergency situations.

Jayasundara said that there were contingency plans at Police stations, Police divisions and at the national level.

“If the government declares an emergency, the plan is implemented as per the situation. The plan will be implemented through the IGP’s Command Room in Mirihana.”

A commissioner then asked Jayasundara why the plan had not been implemented although the Director of SIS, on 20 April, had informed him that a terrorist attack would take place on 21 April.

“I was at my official residence when I received the information. I took steps to inform the senior DIGs about it.”

“Where were you on the morning of 21 April?” a commissioner asked.

“I was at my official residence,” Jayasundara said.

The commission then asked why Jayasundara had been at his official residence instead of going to the IGP’s Command Room and taking any action.

Jayasundara said that he had instructed the SIS Director to inform the officials concerned about the relevant information.

“I had not been informed that there could be an attack on tourist hotels. Former SIS Director SDIG Jayawardena told me that the information received on 20 April was an update of the information received earlier. He only said there could be a serious incident on 21 April.”ness said.

Chairman of the Commission asked Jayasundara why SDIG Jayawardena and other SDIGs had not been summoned on the night of the 20 April to clarify the relevant information.

“At that time, we could only send officers to the relevant places. There was no time to discuss. Also, even though we were not aware, suicide bombers had also reached their targets by that time,” he said.

The ASG suggested that the Police had not paid enough attention to the information provided by the SIS for many years. The former IGP said that it was not correct.

“We never had a chance to question the information coming from the SIS. Given the political situation at the time, I was not even invited to the National Security Council meetings,” he said.



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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?

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… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.

 

 

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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others

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The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.

 

 

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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area

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Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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