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There was reason why Shangri-La was attacked twice during Easter Sunday carnage – Dayasiri

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

There was a reason why two suicide bombers had attacked the Shangri-La Hotel but the Taj Hotel had been spared, State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera, on Tuesday night, told the PCoI investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

External powers had played a role in electing Sri Lankan Presidents and governments since 2015, Jayasekera said. The witness said it must be found out who wanted to remove former President Maithripala Sirisena from power.

The State Minister had been summoned to the PCoI to give evidence about the anti-Muslim riots in Hettipola following the Easter Sunday Attacks. On May 13, 2019, there was unrest in Hettipola, after six youth, arrested over involvement in attacking Muslim-owned properties and mosques in Kiniyama, were brought to the Hettipola Police Station from Bingiriya. When a crowd surrounded the Hettipola Police Station, Jayasekera, who lived close by arrived at the scene and took the youth back to Bingiriya Police Station after the police, civil administrators and community leaders of the area agreed that releasing the six youth on police bail was the best course of action.

Jayasekera: “This incident happened on my public day. Some people came and told me that there was unrest in the town. So I went to the Hettipola Police Station by 12 noon. The OIC told me that there were six youth sent from the Bingiriya Police Station. The OIC also said that during a meeting, it had been agreed to release them. I was told that then State Minister Nalin Bandara too had agreed to the decision. He said that they had to take the youth back to Bingiriya but it was impossible to do so because of the crowd that had gathered outside. I also felt that we needed to get these suspects out of the town. So I spoke to people, got the six people in my vehicle and went to Bingiriya with police protection.”

Chairman of the PCoI: “You are also a lawyer. Should politicians influence how people are arrested or released?”

Jayasekera: “No! I had no involvement in securing their release.”

Chairman of the PCoI: “After the attacks, you said that Taj Hotel in Colombo had not been attacked because some people were staying there. Can you elaborate on that?”

Jayasekera: “Taj is owned by a businessman that belongs to a particular country. A suicide bomber came and left without blowing himself up. There is a reason why there were two attacks on Shangri La hotel and none on Taj. There were also reports that during the time of the attacks, some VIPs were at Taj. That’s why I said that.”

The Chairman of the PCoI then asked Jayasekera why he had said that NTJ leader Zahran Hashim had international links. The witness said that it was the first time that the ‘leader’ of a terrorist group had taken part in the first wave of attacks and died.

“Why would a leader die in the first wave unless there was some good reason? Because of the attacks, President Sirisena could not seek a second term. There may have been some issues concerning Sirisena’s presidency, but he was trying his best to eliminate the drug mafia. The terrorists attacks marked the end of the country’s war on drugs. Now, former IGP, Pujith Jayasundara says the warnings of the attack came from a foreign intelligence source. So, this external intelligence agency knew when the attacks would happen. To be honest Presidents and governments have been brought into power in Sri Lanka by external powers from 2015. In a way Zahran too was a victim, Maithripala and Ranil Wickremesinghe too are victims. Jayasundara and Former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando too are victims,” Jayasekera said.

The PCoI Chairman asked Jayasekera whether the former government had remained on national security in a satisfactory manner. Jayasekera too was a Cabinet Minister in the yahapalana government between 2015 and 2018.

The witness said that there had been many disagreements within the government. Sirisena was not at all happy with cosponsoring a resolution in Geneva in 2015, he said.

“These disagreements affected national security. I wouldn’t say that national security was neglected but it surely was affected by the internal disagreements,” MP Jayasekera said.



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Keheliya, seven others further remanded till 28th June

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The Maligakanda Magistrate’s Court today [14] ordered that former Minister of Health Keheliya Rambukwella and seven others be further remanded until June 28 by over the import of substandard human Immunoglobulin vials.

 

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President launches Public Learning and Education Platform for Sri Lankan Youth

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe officially launched www.publiclearn.lk a new education platform aimed at transforming Sri Lanka’s learning landscape at the Chamber Hall of the Presidential Secretariat, on Thursday [13]

Public Learn is a platform that guides users to free courses from the world’s top universities. .

Emphasizing the importance of adapting to a knowledge-intensive society, the President highlighted Sri Lanka’s strong educational results despite various systemic flaws. He noted that the new platform would enhance the education system’s effectiveness and stressed that Sri Lanka must swiftly advance in digitization to drive the new economic transformation.

President Wickremesinghe highlighted that the Public Learn platform serves as a crucial tool for enabling many Sri Lankans to advance personally and transform their nation. He reflected on Sri Lanka’s historical learning journey in three phases: first, during the era of Arahath Mahinda and the Pirivena system; second, with the introduction of the British public school system; and now, with the advent of digital education platforms like Public Learn, marking the third phase. He emphasized the importance of leveraging digital technology and knowledge to propel Sri Lanka forward in the digital economy, underscoring the need for continuous adaptation and innovation.

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Easter Sunday carnage: ‘Another probe nothing but an exercise in futility’

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Rev. Father Cyril Gamini

‘Implement PCoI recommendations at least now’

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Catholic Church yesterday (14) reiterated its longstanding demand that the recommendations made by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (P CoI) into 2019 Easter Sunday attacks be implemented.

Rev. Father Cyril Gamini Fernando said so when The Island sought the Catholic Church’s reaction to the appointment by President Ranil Wickremesinghe a new committee of inquiry to investigate the actions and responses of the country’s intelligence and security authorities following the intelligence warning received from India.

The committee is headed by retired Judge Ms. A. N. J. de Alwis. Rev. Fernando said that the government should implement the recommendations made by the PCoI headed by Supreme Court judge Janak de Silva. He said another inquiry would be nothing but an exercise in futility as the PCoI conducted an in-depth investigation into the Easter attacks, including the failure on the part of the intelligence apparatus to act on foreign intelligence as well neutralise the growing threat posed by extremist elements.

Rev. Fr. Fernando questioned the rationale behind re-examining the conduct of State Intelligence Service (SIS) and Chief of National Intelligence (CNI) as the Supreme Court in January last year ordered Senior DIG Nilantha Jayewardena and retired DIG Sisira Mendis, who headed the SIS and functioned as CNI, respectively, to pay compensation to the tune of Rs 75 mn and Rs 10 mn.

“What is there to investigate again?” Rev Fernando asked, urging the government to go through the PCoI recommendations in respect of politicians and security officials.

In addition to the PCoI report, the report of the Parliamentary Select Committee and a Special Investigation Committee of three members appointed by the then President Maithriapla Sirisena probed the Easter carnage, Rev Fernando said, adding that if those in parliament were still interested in justice and fair play should look into that matter.

Rev. Fernando urged the government to examine how successive leaders had responded to PCoI findings. When President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed a committee consisting of six MPs to look into the PCoI report and its findings soon after justice Janak de Silva handed over his report on Feb 1, 2021 it became clear that the powers that be would resort to old tactics. Nearly two years after President Rajapaksa’s ouster, the situation remained the same, Rev. Fernando said, adding that the Church wouldn’t give up its fight for justice.

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