Colombo: Sri Lanka’s parliament warned President Maithripala Sirisena not to scuttle a controversial investigation into security lapses before the Easter suicide bombings, the speaker’s office said. The warning came after Sirisena said he would not cooperate with the parliamentary probe and would not allow defence or police officials to testify before the select committee.
The president called an emergency cabinet meeting last week to oppose the legislature’s investigation into the April 21 attacks that killed 258 people, including 45 foreigners, and wounded nearly 500. “Any public servant summoned by the PSC is obliged to give evidence,” speaker Karu Jayasuriya said in a hard-hitting two-page response to Sirisena. “Officials are fully aware of the serious consequences if they fail to respond.”
Officials at the speaker’s office said Jayasuriya made it clear to Sirisena that he will not call off the PSC and it will continue its public hearings. Evidence before the parliamentary select committee, which began its publicly televised sittings since late last month, has placed the president in a poor light, suggesting that he failed to act on advance warning of the attacks
Sirisena’s office said he sacked his national intelligence chief Sisira Mendis who testified that the devastating attacks could have been avoided. Mendis also said the president had failed to hold regular security meetings to assess the threat from Islamic radicals who carried out the bombings. Sirisena’s office did not give a reason for abruptly sacking Mendis.
Sirisena told his police top brass that he would not allow any police, military or intelligence personnel to testify. However, a defence ministry source said that in view of the speaker’s warning, they will have to cooperate. New Delhi had shared detailed information about the targets and the method of attack as early as April 4, two and a half weeks before the bombings, following information from a militant in Indian custody.