Former Defence Secretary was informed of extremist activities in 2017 – Nilantha
Former State Intelligence Chief Nilantha Jayawardena testifying before a Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar yesterday said that a list of 94 individuals with extremist views had been handed over to then Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando in 2017.
He was appearing as the first witness in two cases filed by the Attorney General in the Colombo High Court against former Defense Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and former IGP Pujith Jayasundara for failing to take proper action in connection with the series of Easter Sunday terror attacks that took place on April 21 in 2019.
The two cases were taken up before a bench comprising Justices Namal Balalle, Aditya Patabendige and Mohamed Irshadeen yesterday.
Deputy Solicitor General Dileepa Peiris and Deputy Solicitor General Sudharshana de Silva appeared on behalf of the Attorney General.
Witness Jayawardena testified that he too had been in the service of the Intelligence Service since 2000 and did not perform his duties such as arresting people according to his duties and was always working to protect his identity.
He further testified that he had once been trained as an intelligence officer affiliated with the Israeli Intelligence Service and as intelligence officers are unable to perform police duties, the information is passed on to the IGP or the Defence Secretary.
He had worked with six Defense Secretaries during this period of service and that he had worked with former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando for six or seven months.
Former Chief of Intelligence Nilantha Jayawardena testified that only a few Security Council meetings were held in 2019.
Deputy Solicitor General Sudharshana de Silva inquired from the witness as to when the intelligence regarding the ISIS ideology was received. Witness Jayawardena stated that about four reports were received during the period 2009-2015. He said that the ISIS network was very high and at that time information was received that a large number of the country’s youth were migrating to Syria.
Jayawardena testified that due to the attacks on Syria by other countries during the period 2015-2016, the young people who were to come to Syria were generally instructed by the ISIS to stay in Sri Lanka and spread religious ideology. The Deputy Solicitor General asked the witness how the procedure for forwarding the information received to the Defense Secretaries would affect the transfer of Defense Secretaries. Jayawardena said that in such a case, awareness would have to be created from the initial information. The cases will be taken up again on today(24) for further trial.
Two separate indictments comprising 855 separate charges against former IGP Pujith Jayasundara and former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando were filed by the Attorney General in the Colombo High Court on May 3.
The Attorney General filed indictments in the Colombo High Court against former IGP Pujith Jayasundara and former Defence Secretary Hemasiri Fernando on the basis of accountability of murder and attempted murder under sections 296 and 300 of the Penal Code in connection with the Easter Sunday attacks that took place on April 21, 2019.