By Saman Indrajith
Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) probing the Easter Sunday attacks was told, yesterday, that the President’s Office and the Defence Ministry functioning under President Maithripala Sirisena had helped Colossus (Pvt) Ltd. a factory owned by Yusuf Mohamed Ibrahim, the father of two the suicide bombers who carried out Sunday attacks, for manufacturing non-ferrous metal products such as pipes, profiles, and different types of sections out of copper, brass, and other copper alloys. Ibrahim is currently in custody.
Chairman of the Industrial Development Board P.M.U. Rathnayake, testifying before the committee, said that they had obtained empty brass artillery shells from defence authorities and processed them before releasing them to copper and brass handicraft manufacturers.
Yesterday, the PSC comprised Minister Dr Rajitha Senaratne, Minister Ravi Karunanayake, Prof Ashu Marasinghe, M.A. Sumanthiran, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, Chairman Ananda Kumarasiri, Rauff Hakeem, and Dr. Jayamapathy Wickramaratne.
Minister Senaratne: Are you sure that you released those empty shells after pressing them so that they could not be reused for terrorist purposes?
Ratnayake: Yes, we get them from the army only after the Army pressed and flattened them using a roller.
Field Marshal Fonseka: One cannot refill an artillery shell and use it without an artillery gun. For that purpose, they have to get hold of an artillery gun.
Prof Marasinghe: Had you been influenced by anyone to release brass and copper to certain manufacturers?
Ratnayake: We receive many such letters of requests but we always follow the regulations and provisions of the Act.
Prof Marasinghe: Did you receive such a request from a person by the name of Shantha Bandara.
Prof Marasinghe asked the witness to read the letter by Shantha Bandara sent under the letter heading of the President’s Office.
Ratnayake said that the letter had been signed as Shantha Bandara Director General of Public Relations President and requested IDB chairman to release 500 tonnes of brass to Colossus Pvt Ltd.
The IDB Chairman said that he had responded that there wasn’t such a huge stock of brass to be released.
He said that he had been asked to give 100,000 of kilos of empty brass shells to the Colossus Pvt Ltd by the Defence Ministry. That letter had been signed by Devika Liyanage, Senior Assistant Secretary for the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence.
Secretary to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce KDN Ranjith Asoka testifying before the committee said that he had come under no influence from any quarters to give scrap iron and copper removed from state institutions to the Wellampitiya copper factory belonging to Mohamed Ibrahim. He said he had never seen Ibrahim.
The secretary said that his ministry followed the laws and regulations to the letter.