Mon, Jun 03, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Sri Lankan president accused over security lapses

POLICE COMPLAINT:The inspector-general said the head of the State Intelligence Service did not take intelligence from India ahead of the Easter bombings seriously


Members of the Protect Sri Lanka group protest in Colombo on Saturday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

Sri Lanka’s suspended police chief has petitioned the Supreme Court, accusing Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena of failing to prevent the Easter bombings, which killed 258 people.

In a 20-page report, Inspector-General Pujith Jayasundara disclosed serious communication gaps between intelligence agencies and security arms of the government, all which fall under Sirisena.

In the petition submitted to court last week and seen by reporters yesterday, Jayasundara said that the Sri Lankan State Intelligence Service (SIS) last year ordered him to stop ongoing police investigations into Muslim militants.

The SIS, which reports directly to Sirisena, wanted the police’s Terrorist Investigation Department to stop all inquiries into militant factions, including the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ), which was blamed for the bombings on April 21.

Jayasundara said that the head of the SIS, Nilantha Jayawardena, did not take seriously the intelligence shared by neighboring India, which warned of an impending attack by the NTJ.

Despite the SIS not sharing information warnings with the police department, he had initiated action to alert his senior men, but he had no input from the main spy agency, Jayasundara said.

Sirisena suspended Jayasundara after he refused to accept responsibility for the deadly attacks. The Sri Lankan attorney general has asked for a full bench of the Supreme Court to decide the case.

Jayasundara said that he was offered a diplomatic post if he took the fall and stepped down, but he refused, saying that he was not responsible for the catastrophic intelligence failure.

Jayasundara’s petition came days after Sirisena publicly rebuked another intelligence official, Sisira Mendis, after he told a parliamentary panel that the Easter suicide bombings could have been avoided.

Mendis’ testimony appeared to put Sirisena in a poor light by implying that he had not held Sri Lankan National Security Council meetings to review threats such as the attacks carried out by the Islamic State group.

In a statement, Sirisena denied claims by Mendis that the country’s highest security body had not met as often as it should have around the time of the attacks.

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