Commission of Inquiry on Easter Sunday attacks record statements | Sunday Observer

Commission of Inquiry on Easter Sunday attacks record statements

17 May, 2020

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the Easter Sunday attacks resumed hearings from May 13.

The Officer in Charge (OIC) of the Katana Police Station has admitted that they partly failed to act on a request for protection by the parish priest at St. Sebastian’s Church in Katuwapitiya on Easter Sunday last year.

The OIC made this revelation before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on 2019 Easter Attacks when it met on Saturday (May 16).

Negombo ASP Sisira Kumara appeared before the Commission on May 15. He said that he arrived at the Katana Police Station on April 19 after receiving warning letters about the attacks and he discussed the documents with the OIC.

When inquired as to who was then responsible for the events, ASP Sisira Kumara stated that even though the information was confined to a sheet of paper, he and the others too were partly responsible.

Following ASP Sisira Kumara, an intelligence officer of the Negombo Division, whose name was not disclosed to the media testified before the Commission.

He said that former Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of the Negombo Division, Chandana Athukorala requested a report on the events from him.

Subsequently, the former Katana OIC Kosala Chaminda Navaratne, appeared before the Commission on May 16.

He first testified that the parish priest at the Kandawala Church requested security from him and not the parish priest at the Katuwapitiya Church, but later admitted that the parish priest at the Katuwapitiya Church had, in fact, requested Police protection for the Easter services on April 20, 2019.

The SSP Chandana Athukorala had called the OIC at 7.30 pm that night and instructed him to ‘not let anything happen’ and ‘alert the team on night duty’.

Accordingly, officers who had been on patrol duty on April 20 night at the Kandawala and Katuwapitiya churches were provided security.

Once the Easter service ended on April 20 night, the officers on duty at the churches were deployed to ensure the security in the area, the OIC disclosed.

When the Commission inquired why Police protection was not provided for the morning mass, the OIC said he was not aware of a morning mass.

Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police for Western Province Deshabandu Tennakoon and Western Province South DIG S. W. Wickremasinghe were summoned before the Presidential Commission on May 14 for an ‘open evidence’ hearing.

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry had temporarily suspended operations due to the Covid-19 outbreak in the country; however, the Commission resumed work from May 13.

The second interim report of the Commission was handed over to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat on March 2, 2020. The first interim report was handed over on December 20, 2019.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa through an Extraordinary Gazette notification issued on March 17 extended the term of the Presidential Commission until September 20 which was set to expire on March 20.

The five-member Commission was appointed by former President Maithripala Sirisena on September 22, 2019 to investigate the series of terror attacks that took place on Easter Sunday the same year and recommend necessary actions.