News

Sirisena, Gotabaya assassination plot probe ongoing 

  • Sarath Weerasekera says concluded probe files sent to AG in Sept 2019
  • Nalin Bandara claims ex-TID Director Nalaka de Silva could have prevented Zaharan 

BY Buddhika Samaraweera

Public Security Minister, Rear Admiral (Retd.) Sarath Weerasekera said on Tuesday (22) that the investigations into the alleged conspiracy in 2018 to assassinate the then President and current MP Maithripala Sirisena and incumbent President Gotabaya Rajapaksa are still ongoing. 

He said this during a Parliamentary session in response to a question raised by Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Parliamentarian Nalin Bandara Jayamaha.

In October 2018, an individual named Namal Kumara, releasing certain voice recordings, claimed that there was a conspiracy to assassinate Sirisena and Rajapaksa. Subsequently, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) commenced an investigation into the matter. During the said investigation, the then Terrorism Investigation Division (TID) Director, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Nalaka de Silva was arrested by the CID on charges of involvement in the conspiracy, following which he was interdicted. 

Jayamaha, who is also a former Law and Order Deputy Minister, questioned Weerasekera regarding the current status of the investigations into the said conspiracy. 

“I, as a former Law and Order Deputy Minister, know that de Silva was a skilled officer in the TID at the time. He was an officer who was following the National Thowheed Jamaat’h (NTJ) Leader Zaharan Hashim (a reference to Mohamed Cassim Mohamed Zaharan who carried out the suicide bombing at the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo on 21 April 2019). We remember that in 2018 he even obtained an open warrant to arrest Zaharan and several others,” Jayamaha said. 

He also said that de Silva had then attempted to obtain a red warrant for Zaharan’s arrest as he had received information that he was abroad at the time. “In 2018, de Silva obtained an open warrant for the arrest of a group including Zaharan. He was then seeking a red warrant based on information that Zaharan had gone abroad.” 

Adding that de Silva was arrested following the allegations made by Kumara about an attempt to assassinate Sirisena and Rajapaksa, Jayamaha said: “Then Zaharan was set free. There was the 52 days coup. Sirisena appointed incumbent Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister. After the failed coup, Sirisena took over the Law and Order Ministry.” 

He added that a few months after the incident, the bombings by Zaharan and others in the Easter Sunday terror attacks of 21 April 2019 had created the conditions for a change of Government.

Further claiming that the said alleged assassination conspiracy is one of the biggest conspiracies in the history of the country and that investigations into it cannot be allowed to be overshadowed, he questioned Weerasekera as to what action had been taken against de Silva and what action would be taken against Kumara if he had lied.

“It has been three years since the talk about this conspiracy. Has it been forgotten? It cannot be allowed to be forgotten because if de Silva had continued as the TID Director, Zaharan would have been arrested and this terrorist attack would not have taken place,” he claimed.

Accordingly, in response to the question raised by Jayamaha, Weerasekera stated that according to a complaint lodged by Kumara on 15 October 2018, the investigation into the alleged incident had been completed and that the relevant files have been referred to the Attorney General (AG) in the second half of 2019.

When questioned as to whether any politician or political party was behind the conspiracy, he said that no such connection has been revealed. “Neither politicians nor any political party were involved in this,” he added.

In response to the question raised by Jayamaha as to what action has been taken against de Silva, Weerasekera said: “After conducting investigations into the complaint made by Kumara, de Silva has been arrested and released on bail on 21 May 2019. The files were referred to the AG in the second half of 2019 to take further action.” 

He further stated that de Silva has been suspended from his duties with effect from 17 October 2018 with the approval of the National Police Commission (NPC) and that his request for reinstatement was rejected by the Public Service Commission (PSC) in December 2019.

Speaking further, he said that the Special Investigation Unit of the Police is conducting further investigations on the instructions of the Inspector General of Police (IGP). “Currently, the Special Investigation Unit is conducting further investigations on the instructions of the IGP. The relevant files were in the Court. They have now been obtained and further investigations are being conducted.” 

Testifying before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the Easter Sunday terror attacks in October 2020, the former IGP Pujith Jayasundara claimed that Kumara, who exposed an alleged plan to assassinate Sirisena and Rajapaksa in 2018, had, at one point, been paid by Sirisena’s office. He also said that the basis on which an unqualified person like Kumara received a salary from the Presidential Secretariat should be investigated. “The former Director of the Presidential Task Force on Drug Prevention, Dr. Samantha Kithalawaarachchi, at the time, told me that Kumara was paid by the Task Force also,” he said.

Kumara has also been given a reward of Rs. 500,000 from the Police Rewards Fund for providing information needed to arrest several suspects involved in the riots in Digana in 2018.