PSC to reconvene this week despite absence of State intelligence officers | Sunday Observer

PSC to reconvene this week despite absence of State intelligence officers

Despite the comments by President Maithripala Sirisena at the monthly meeting with senior Police officials last week that no State intelligence officer will be permitted to be present at the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) appointed to probe the Easter Sunday attacks, the PSC will reconvene on June 11 and 12 as scheduled.

Representatives from the Federation of Kattankudy Mosques and Muslim Institutions and All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) will appear before the PSC on June 11 and the PSC has decided to summon the same witnesses on June 12 as well.

Former Western Province Governor Azath Salley who resigned from his post recently is also expected to testify before the Committee on June 11, reliable sources told the Sunday Observer yesterday.

The President told senior Police officials on Friday that he did not approve the PSC summoning State intelligence officers and disclosing State intelligence to the media.

The President also said so far the witnesses summoned to the PSC were officers who were removed from service but no officers of the State intelligence currently in service will be permitted to testify before the PSC while he would accept the responsibility for all of them.

However, a PSC member and JVP MP Dr.Nalinda Jayatissa told the Sunday Observer yesterday that the leader of a country does not have the right to bar State officials from being present at the PSC or appear before courts to give evidence.

“If the President exceeds his authority, attention will have to be given to it,” he said.

Dr Jayatissa said “If the President thinks the top State intelligence officers giving evidence before the PSC is prejudicial to national security, the PSC can take a decision to summon them without opening PSC proceedings to the media. But there is no point in summoning only the intelligence officers who are now retired. If the President attempts to weaken the Parliament using his executive powers, it would have serious repercussions.”

He said the PSC is discussing an incident which has already taken place within its scope.

As a result of it, nearly 260 people died and 600 were injured. In addition, three churches were damaged and tourism sector faced a severe setback.

“The intention of the PSC is to investigate whether intelligence on the Easter Sunday attacks was received beforehand, shortcomings in divulging such information and taking steps to ensure that a similar disaster would not occur in the future. Therefore, a postmortem on the incident should be held but the PSC proceedings cannot be continued without recording evidence from the state intelligence officers” he noted.

MP Jayatissa further said the PSC was appointed with the consent of all political parties represented in Parliament. It consists of 12 members including seven Government and five Opposition MPs. Of the Opposition members,only a JVPer and a TNA MP participated in the Committee proceedings.

Setting up a PSC is not a new phenomenon. Similar Committees had been set up and opened to the media even in other countries with Westminster parliamentary system and the US.