Blame game continues | Sunday Observer
PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks:

Blame game continues

18 October, 2020
St. Anthony’s shrine Kochchikade after the Easter Sunday attacks
St. Anthony’s shrine Kochchikade after the Easter Sunday attacks

As the proceedings of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the Easter Sunday attacks continues to draw to a close, several key persons of the former government gave evidence before the Commission this week. Among them was former Prime Minister and Leader of the United National Party (UNP) Ranil Wickremesinghe. Providing evidence on two consecutive days the former Premier admitted the former government led by him should take collective responsibility for the terror attacks which took place on April 23, 2019.

Appearing before the Commission Wickremesinghe said that the security apparatus of the country had collapsed by the time the attacks took place. He said as a result the former governmnet should collectively bear the responsibility for the attacks. Wickremesinghe also revealed that he was not called to attend Security Council meetings since October 2018, giving a glimpse of the conflicts within the government at the time. When asked by the Additional Solicitor General if there were conflicts within the government, Wickremesinghe denied it and said conflicts only occurred when appointments were being made.

Also providing evidence before the Commission this week was Former President Maithripala Sirisena. The Former President told the Commission that he believes the Easter Sunday attacks could have been prevented if steps had been taken. Sirisena blamed the officials who had failed to take action and said they should be responsible for the attacks and the ensuing carnage.


The former President this week was also questioned by the Commissioners about the release of two of the four suspects, arrested during the CID raid on Wanathawilluwa terror training camp on January 16, 2019. Sirisena said that the person who recommended the release of the suspects should be held responsible for this.

However, the Commissioners then informed the former President that he had signed the documents releasing them to which Sirisena replied that he would sign a large number of documents brought to him by the CID and the Ministry of Defence and that it was not possible to check each one individually.

When asked by the Attorney General’s Department representative whether it was not the responsibility of the Head of State to ensure the safety of the citizens, Sirisena in response said terrorist attacks take place in many countries of the world and leaders are not held responsible for all of them.Sirisena was then asked about a report submitted by the State Intelligence Service (SIS) on October 23,2018 about 120 persons who held Islamic State (IS) ideologies.

According to the former President, the document was discussed at the Security Council meetings and instructions had been given and they should have acted on the instructions given.

The former President also noted that the former Director of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) Senior DIG Nilantha Jayawardena made a serious error by not informing him of the intelligence information received on April 4, 2019 which had warned of a possible terror attack.

According to Sirisena, he had instructed Jayawardena to personally inform him of any possible threats to national security. Sirisena said Jayawardena had been told at the Security Council to make him aware of matters relating to the underworld, drug trafficking and other threats to national security. The former President admitted before the Commission that he was in constant contact with Jayawardena.

While at a previous Commission hearing former Secretary of Defence Hemasiri Fernando had claimed Sirisena had offered an ambassadorial post to former IGP Pujith Jayasundara if he takes full responsibility for the attacks, when asked about it this week Sirisena claimed it was not true. Instead, Sirisena told the Commission he said he would give him such a post when he embarrassed himself by dancing at the Kandy Perahera. “I told the IGP to resign as his behavior did not suit an IGP. This happened way before the Easter Sunday attacks,” he said.

Fernando giving evidence previously had also said the former President had told Jayasundara to remove CID investigator IP Nishantha Silva after at a security council meeting the then Chief of Defence Staff Ravi Wijegunawardena lodged a complaint against the CID officer.

Sirisena told the commission that Silva had conducted most of this investigations to please certain NGOs that are affiliated with the LTTE. When asked, Sirisena had instructed former IGP Pujith Jayasundara to transfer Silva at a National Security Council (NSC) meeting, Sirisena said he had received several complaints about investigations initiated by Silva against Buddhist monks, military and intelligence officers.


Jayasundara had then sent a letter to the National Police Commission stating that the decision to transfer was ‘in accordance with instructions received at the National Security Council’. Sirisena said that this shouldn’t have been revealed. He then said as a result the former IGP was uninvited for future security council meetings by him.

The Commission also asked Sirisena about several telephone calls between Jayawardena and the former President’s official residence on April 20, 2019. Jayawardena had made two telephone calls to the former President’s residence at 7.59 a.m. and 8.01 a.m. The former President said that he was told that there had been several bomb blasts and that a large number of people had been killed. However, it was pointed out to Sirisena that the bomb blasts had not taken place at the time of these calls. Sirisena said that he may have not received the telephone calls in the morning.

He said he was abroad and can remember his call about an attack.

The Former President appeared before the Commission on Saturday (17) for the fourth consecutive day.