Suspended police chief blames Sirisena over Easter attacks

Sri Lanka’s suspended police chief has petitioned the Supreme Court, accusing President Maithripala Sirisena of failing to prevent the Easter bombings that killed 258 people.

In a 20-page complaint, Inspector-General Pujith Jayasundara disclosed serious communication gaps between intelligence agencies and security arms of the government, all which fall under Mr. Sirisena.

Jayasundara’s petition

In the petition submitted to court last week, Mr. Jayasundara said the country’s premier spy agency, the State Intelligence Service (SIS, ordered him last year to stop ongoing police investigations into Islamic militants.

The SIS, which reports directly to Mr. Sirisena, wanted the police Terrorist Investigation Department to stop all inquiries into extremist Muslim factions, including the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ, which was blamed for the Easter Sunday bombings.

Mr. Jayasundara said the head of the SIS, Nilantha Jayawardena, did not take seriously the intelligence shared by neighbouring India which warned of an impending attack by the NTJ.

Mr. Jayasundara said despite the SIS not sharing information warnings with the police department, he had initiated action to alert his senior men, but he had no input from the main spy agency.

Mr. Sirisena suspended Mr. Jayasundara after he refused to accept responsibility for the deadly attacks. The Attorney General has asked for a full bench of the apex court to decide the case.

Taking responsibility

Mr. Jayasundara said he was offered a diplomatic post if he took the fall and stepped down, but he refused as he said he was not responsible for the catastrophic intelligence failure.

He said he had been sidelined by the President since a political rift between the President and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe emerged in October.

Mr. Jayasundara’s petition came days after Mr. Sirisena publicly rebuked another intelligence official, Sisira Mendis, after he told a parliamentary panel that the Easter suicide bombings could have been avoided.

Mr. Mendis’s testimony appeared to put Mr. Sirisena in a poor light by implying that he had not held National Security Council meetings to review threats.