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Suspended police head says dismissal unfair, blames President for failing to prevent Lanka attack

Press Trust of India  |  Colombo 

Sri Lanka's suspended police chief has petitioned the Supreme Court, accusing President Maithripala Sirisena of failing to prevent the Easter bombings and claiming that his dismissal was unfair.

Jayasundera was sent on compulsory leave by Sirisena for his alleged inaction on the intelligence shared by India, which warned of an impending attack by Islamic militants, and thereby, failing to prevent the serial blasts that killed over 250 people.

In the petition submitted to the court last week, Jayasundera revealed serious lack of communication between intelligence agencies and security arms of the government, all which fall under Sirisena, and claimed he was sidelined was excluded from attending National Security Council meetings since a political rift between the President and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe emerged in October last year.

In October 2018, Sirisena had sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. The police was under the control of Wickremesinghe.

In the 20-page complaint, the former police chief said Sirisena had asked Nilantha Jayawardena, the head of the State Intelligence Service (SIS) -- country's premier spy agency, to report directly to the president on matters of national security.

Jayasundera claimed despite having intelligence inputs from India about an impending attack, the SIS chief did not take the warning seriously and take any action on it.

On April 9, Jayasundera said he received a letter from Sisira Mendis, the chief of national intelligence, giving information on the planned attack. He also received a phone call from the Secretary to the then Defence Minister Hemasiri Fernando on the impending attacks. Fernando was also sacked by Sirisena for his alleged failure to prevent the attacks.

The former Inspector-General claimed despite the SIS not sharing security warning information with the police department, he alerted Jayawardena about the impending threat but the SIS head did not ask him to take any action.

More than 250 people were killed in eight coordinated suicide bomb attacks carried out by local Jihadi group National Thowheed Jammath (NTJ) linked to the ISIS on April 21.

Two days after the attacks, Jayasundera said, Sirisena asked him to take the responsibility for the failure to prevent the bombings and step down in exchange for a diplomatic posting.

However, he refused to do so following which Sirisena sacked him "illegally".

Earlier on Thursday, Sirisena said he was not privy to an intelligence warning on the Easter suicide bombings, contradicting the national intelligence chief Mendis' testimony before a parliamentary probe panel.

A parliamentary select committee was appointed to probe the events leading to the April 21 attacks and any lapses by those responsible following reports that India had alerted the Sri Lankan defence establishment on the impending attacks.

Testifying before the committee on Wednesday, Mendis said that at an intelligence coordination meeting on April 9 discussed the information received on the impending attacks, however, it "was never a main point for discussion".

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, June 02 2019. 20:30 IST