By Saman Indrajith
The Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) probing the Easter Sunday carnage found itself in a difficult situation owing to a clash between the legislature and the executive, PSC sources said.
The PSC has almost completed its hearings, except the recording the evidence of President Maithripala Sirisena, who is also the Defence Minister.
PSC member JVP Kalutara District MP Dr Nalinda Jayatissa told The Island yesterday: “Now, we find it difficult to compile the report which is due in one month since President Sirisena is not cooperating with us. The PSC is a parliamentary process and President Sirisena as the executive should be more responsible and cooperative. He is also the Defence Minister and the PSC probing the Easter attacks has been given the mandate to summon all persons irrespective of their positions to ascertain what led to the deaths of around 260 persons.”
Dr Jayatissa said that they could compile a report if the President informed them officially that he would not come before the PSC to give evidence. “Chairman of the committee Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri told me that the letter inviting the president was sent last Thursday. We have not yet been informed whether the President is coming or not.”
President Sirisena has, however, gone on record as saying that he will not go before the PSC, which he insists has no right to summon the President. He has liked the PSC proceedings to a drama, rehearsed at Temple Trees in the evening and enacted the following day.
Asked to comment on reports that President Sirisena during a meeting with heads of media having said that he would not go before the PSC even if he was summoned, Dr Jayatissa said: “At the same meeting he said that he would not let any person in active service to appear before the PSC to give evidence. That we have proven wrong. We summoned many persons in the active service right from the incumbent OIC of the Kaththankudy police station to the members of the presidential committee appointed to probe the Easter attacks. They gave evidence before the PSC. So one cannot come to a final decision on the basis of what President Sirisena utters from time to time.”
Forty five witnesses have testified before the PSC and more witnesses are expected appear before it.
The following witnesses have already appeared before the PSC: Defence Secretary General (Rtd) Shantha Kottegoda, former Chief of National Intelligence (CNI) Sisira Mendis, former Director of the TID, DIG Nalaka De Silva, former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando, IGP Pujith Jayasundara (sent on compulsory leave), former Governor of the Western Province Azath Salley, Chairman of the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama I. M. Rizvi, Chairman of the Kattankudy Mosque Federation, Muhammed Subei, former Governor of the Eastern Province M. L. A. M. Hizbullah, President of Ceylon Thowheed Jamaath, A. K. Hisham, Kattankudy OIC IP Nishantha Kasturiarachchi and his predecessor Chief Inspector Ariyabandu Wedagedera, Industrial Development Board Director General P. L. U. Rathnamalala, Industry and Commerce, Ministry Secretary Ranjith Asoka, Army Commander Lt. General Mahesh Senanayake, former Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen, MP M. H. A. Haleem’s brother M. H. Fahim, General Manager of Bank of Ceylon Senerath Bandara, Director General of Board of Investments C. P. Malalgoda, Secretary to the National Police Commission D. M. Samansiri Dissanayake, Senior DIG of the Eastern Province Kapila Jayasekera, SLFP General Secretary MP Dayasiri Jayasekara, State Intelligence Service Chief Senior DIG Nilantha Jayawardena, Head of the Criminal Investigation Department and Terrorist Investigation Division, Senior DIG Ravi Seneviratne, Director CID SSP Shani Abeysekera, Inspector T. R. K. R. Pathirana of the TID, Head of the Terrorist Investigation Division DIG Waruna Jayasundara, former IGP and National Defence Advisor N. K. Illangakoon, STF Commandant Senior DIG M. R. Latiff, Major General (Rtd) Lal Perera, Chief Executive Officer of BBS, Dilanthe Vithanage, former Secretary to the Ministry of Law and Order Padmasiri Jayamanne, Governor Central Bank Indrajit Coomaraswamy, Director of Financial Intelligence Unit, D. M. Rupasinghe and Director of Department of Supervision of Non-Bank Financial Institutions R. R. Jayaratne, KMD Anuradha – an accountant and activist attached to the Uthuru Negenahira Sinhala Sanvidanaya, Attorney General Dappula de Livera, Senior Deputy Solicitor General (SDSG) Sumathi Dharmawardena, Senior State Counsel Malik Aziz, former Defence Secretary Kapila Waidyaratne, Supreme Court Judge Vijith K. Malalgoda, former Law and Order Ministers Sagala Ratnayake, Ranjith Maddumabandara and State Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The select committee has been mandated to ascertain whether the law enforcement authorities had received prior intelligence relating to the Easter Sunday attacks, whether the relevant authorities took adequate measures to prevent such attacks; whether there were deficiencies in the State machinery that led to the inability to prevent or mitigate the effects of such attacks among several other objectives.
The committee was expected to submit its report within three months of the date of its first sitting which was May 29. On Aug 20, Supreme Court Judge Malalgoda, former IGP Illangakoon and former Ministry Secretary Padmasiri Jayamanne appeared before the PSC. On Thursday, Parliament approved an extension of time for the PSC to present its final report. Accordingly, the PSC which was supposed to finish its assignment on August 23, 2019 was granted an extension of time till September 30, 2019.