Chairman of the Presidential Committee that investigated into the Easter Sunday attack, Supreme Court justice Vijith Malalgoda told the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) probing the same that the final report given by the committee cannot by itself be used as sufficient evidence to prosecute.
He said this today (20), when the three members of the Commission was called to give evidence before the PSC, where the three members of the Commission headed by justice Malalgoda, former secretary Padamasiri Jayamanne and former IGP N. K. Illangakone gave evidence before the select committee.
Nearly two months ago the Attorney General (AG) Dappula de Livera wrote to the acting IGP instructing him that there is sufficient evidence to name the former Defense Secretary Hemasiri Fernando and former IGP Pujith Jayasundara as suspects of the Easter Sunday attacks. Accordingly, charges were drawn against the duo under sections 296, 298,328 and 329 of the Penal Code. Section 296 which deals with murder states, “whoever commits murder shall be punished with death”. The charges were drawn against them on the basis that they fail to take action which resulted in over 250 deaths.
Both the AG’s letter to the acting IGP as well as in the submissions made Deputy Solicitor General (DSG) Thusith Mudalige it was expressly stated that the action against the former secretary and IGP commenced based on the final report compiled by the Presidential Commission.
Today’s revelation by justice Malalgoda poses serious questions about the validity of the action maintained against the former high-ranking officials.
Although this matter was admitted by the chairman of the Commission himself today, this issue was raised at the magisterial hearing when the matter was heard by Colombo Chief Magistrate Lanka Jayarathne on 3 July. Magistrate questioned the DSG as to whether the Presidential Commission was stipulated under some written law such as the ‘Bond Commission’. It was accordingly learnt that it was not the case and the Commission was merely appointed by the President.
She explained that the reason to pose the question was to guide the court as to consider the evidence in the final report as conclusive and sufficient or separate evidence should be elucidated to bring charges against the said accused. The Chief Magistrate granted bail based on several grounds and this too was challenged by the Attorney General by way of a separate revision application.
Therefore it is now clear that the findings in the final report is not to be final and conclusive evidence to prosecute anyone and that it can only be done through ascertaining fresh evidence.