Sri Lanka re­sumes Easter blasts probe de­spite re­sis­tance from Pres­i­dent

The Hindu Business Line - - NEWS -

De­spite strong ob­jec­tion by Pres­i­dent Maithri­pala Sirisena, the Sri Lankan gov­ern­ment on Tues­day be­gan the Par­lia­men­tary Se­lect Com­mit­tee (PSC) in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the se­cu­rity lapses sur­round­ing sui­cide at­tacks on the Easter Sun­day that killed 258 peo­ple in­clud­ing 11 In­di­ans.

Pres­i­dent Sirisena, who is the head of the Cab­i­net, warned last week that he would not at­tend the Cab­i­net un­less the gov­ern­ment took im­me­di­ate action to halt the Par­lia­men­tary in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The PSC be­gan hear­ing tes­ti­mony from Mus­lim lead­ers who said they re­peat­edly warned the author­i­ties against rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion. The com­mit­tee sum­moned for­mer Gover­nor of the West­ern prov­ince Azath Sally to tes­tify be­fore it.

The Cab­i­net meet­ing was not called by Sirisena, of­fi­cials said. Pres­i­dent Sirisena last week asked the Cab­i­net to halt the hear­ings, cit­ing na­tional se­cu­rity con­cerns.

He said it was un­called for and a se­ri­ous threat to na­tional se­cu­rity as the top in­tel­li­gence per­son­nel are iden­ti­fied through the me­dia. He said he would not al­low any serv­ing de­fence of­fi­cial to tes­tify be­fore the PSC.

He wrote to Speaker Karu Jaya­suriya urg­ing a halt to the PSC. He, how­ever, replied that the PSC was a Par­lia­men­tary is­sue and it would pro­ceed.

On in­tel­li­gence warnings

Sirisena has in­sisted that as Min­is­ter of De­fence and Law and Or­der he was un­aware of pre­cise in­tel­li­gence warnings from In­dia about the at­tack on April 21.

He sus­pended po­lice chief Pu­jith Jaya­sun­dara and dismissed his top de­fence of­fi­cial He­masiri Fer­nando after it was found that there were in­tel­li­gence fail­ures be­fore the at­tacks.

Sirisena said that none of the serv­ing of­fi­cers would be au­tho­rised by him to tes­tify in fu­ture.

Jaya­suriya stressed that all of­fi­cials are bound by Par­lia­men­tary priv­i­leges and they would be com­pelled to re­spond to sum­mons by the PSC.

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