Public figures under scrutiny | Sunday Observer
Probe into Easter Sunday attacks

Public figures under scrutiny

28 June, 2020
Destruction caused by the Easter Sunday attacks
Destruction caused by the Easter Sunday attacks

Revelations came to light at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry probing into the Easter Sunday attack this week, with a focus on several public figures in the political arena. Former Minister Rishard Bathiudeen came under scrutiny following several testimonies relating to him at the Commission this week.

Making testimony before the Commission on Monday, a former Intelligence Director explained how a piece of information can be verified as intelligence. He was presented with documents scrutinised by the Commission, which certain officials had received prior to the attack and questioned if he considered these documents as intelligence.

Perusing the documents, the official confirmed that the documents fulfilled the criteria to be considered as intelligence information. He told the Commission that such information is received rarely. During his career, he has received clear and precise intelligence only in two instances.

Referring to another document, he said that though at the beginning, the content of the letter appeared to be precise, it had been diluted at the end. He said that the Chief of National Intelligence must be one with prior experience, but DIG (Rtd) Sisira Mendia who held the position during the time of the attack had no such track record.

He said that he had informed Mendis and Director of the State Intelligence Service Nilantha Jayawardene of Zahran Hashim and his activities on nine occasions. He said he called upon Mendis to take immediate legal action against Hashim as many of Hashim’s videos resembled those of international terror outfit ‘ISIS’.

He explained how Zahran Hashim managed to escape the clutches of law enforcement. He said that while those under him had constantly searched for Hashim, it was later found out that he had escaped to India in a boat from the Mannar Island. When asked who had assisted him to escape, the official said that Bathiudeen’s brother Rifkan Bathiudeen had helped Hashim. He said that he received information that Rifkan was involved in transporting illegal goods. When the official testified that this was communicated to the security council on March 22, 2019 through former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando, he said that Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamath, of which Hashim was part of, had received the support of the Minister. This, he said, was conveyed to the Security Council in 2017. However, following this revelation, Rifkan Bathiudeen through a lawyer told the commission stated that the information provided by the former Director of Intelligence was false. He said that though his brother Riyaj Bathiudeen has been remanded over the attacks, he himself had never met Hashim.

The former Director of Intelligence was once again asked by the Commission if he had any information to claim that Rifkan was involved in allowing Hashim to escape, to which he replied in the affirmative.

OIC of the Special Investigations Unit of the CID, CI Y.R Ravindra, giving a statement relating to the Cinnamon Grand bomber, Mohamed Ibrahim Inshaf Ahmed, said that the bomber had owned a copper wire manufacturing company called Colossus. CI Ravindra said that the bomber had met Rishard Bathiudeen when he was the Minister under whose purview the Board of Investments was to resolve an issue relating to the business.

He said that while the Investment Development Board had a procedure to provide scrap metal to businesses, in 2017 when Bathiudeen was the Minister in charge, Colossus had been issued 17 percent of scrap metal and in 2018, 35 percent of scrap mental when other businesses had received only 0.5 percent.

He said that Inshaf had provided nearly Rs. 42 million to the National Towheed Jamatha to fund its activities. The CID also showed the Commission unseen footage of the bomber which shows him being dropped off at the Airport the day prior to the attack, after which he leaves in another vehicle.

The CID said following this, Inshaf had visited many places before checking into the hotel at which he carried out the attack.


Forty incomplete investigation reports back to Police

The Police were sent back to the drawing board this week when the Attorney General’s Department returned nearly 40 investigation reports relating to the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks. The files pertaining to suspects arrested over the attacks in April 2019 were incomplete resulting in them being returned to Acting IGP C.D Wickramaratne, Attorney General’s Department sources said.

According to the Coordinating Secretary to the Attorney General, Senior State Counsel Nishara Jayaratne, despite the files handed over to the department were marked as complete, the returned files were in fact incomplete and the Department was unable to take legal action based on them as a result. The files had come from various Police stations that had carried out investigations following the attacks.

The Attorney General, writing to the acting IGP, stated that completed investigation files should only be submitted to the department. The AG had stressed that any incomplete file submitted will be returned to the Police.