Former Defence Secretary, IGP released on bail

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Former Defence Ministry Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and Inspector General of Police Pujitha Jayasundara,were ordered to be released on bail by Colombo Chief Magistrate Lanka Jayarathne yesterday.

They are charged with criminal negligence, murder and failure to prevent or at least minimise damages, caused during the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks.They were released on two sureties of Rs. 500,000 each.

Delivering a lengthy order, the magistrate observed that there are no sufficient facts for the two suspects to be charged with murder under Section 296 of the Penal Code. The Magistrate further observed that the written submissions by both parties have mentioned the legal aspect of this matter.

The Magistrate considered that the failure of the suspects to react based on the information received over the terrorist attack was not amounting to an omission. The Magistrate further observed that on the previous hearing date, responding to a question raised by the Bench, the Criminal Investigations Department had stated that they commenced this investigation after the interim report of the ‘Special Board of Inquiry’ appointed to inquire into the Easter attacks, which had recommended a possible criminal investigation against the two suspects,.

The Magistrate also observed that the special Board of Inquiry appointed to inquire into the Easter Sunday attack had not been established under Section 9 of the special Presidential Commission of Inquiry Act. It is unfair for the arrestees not to obtain statements from them. The Criminal Investigations Department has not followed the proper procedure before arresting the suspects, the Magistrate added.

The Magistrate also considered the charges against the suspects, under Sections 298 (criminal negligence), 327 and 328 of the Penal Code, over their alleged ‘omission’ and said that such inclusion was also questionable for maintaining a criminal inquiry as there was no cogent evidence to prove such negligence of their duties.

The Magistrate also considered the letter received by IGP Jayasundara on April 9, noting that the Director of the State Intelligence Service had been sending details pertaining to National Thawheed Jama’ath leader Zahran Hashim to IGP Jayasundara.

The SIS Director had mentioned in his letter that NTJ leader Zahran was posting several extremist posts through his Facebook account. Zahran was also sharing posts targeting Indian nationals, the Magistrate observed. The Magistrate observed that the Director of State Intelligence had not mentioned any information regarding the Sunday attacks in his letter.

The Magistrate further observed that the Defence Secretary cannot take total responsibility for the intelligence service alone.The Defence Minister is also responsible for intelligence information and is duty bound to command the Sri Lanka Armed forces regarding the facts. According to the powers of the Defence Secretary, there is a limit to which he can act.

Considering the facts submitted by the defence counsel, the Magistrate observed that they had stated that IGP Jayasundara had taken all the possible steps that he could have taken after that letter was received by him, as he had copied it to the Western Province SDIG, DIG STF, Director TID and DIG under whom the PSD and JSD comes.