Sri Lanka’s former president Maithripala Sirisena is alleged to have offered a senior police chief a “pension and a position as an ambassador in any country he wished to serve,” if he accepted blame for a series of security lapses that led to the Easter Sunday bombings according to the former Defense Secretary Hemasiri Fernando, as controversy continued at a President Commission looking into the attacks.
Fernando attempted to distance himself from Sirisena’s reported offer, stating that then IGP Pujith Jayasundara had told him of the offer but he had responded by advising him to “discuss the matter with his family members”.
The accusation comes as Sirisena was summoned to the commission a day after he attended an observer to listen to evidence by other respondents.
The Easter Sunday bombings left approximately 259 people dead and at least 500 injured.
Sirisena and the then-Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe were both blamed for their inability to prevent the attacks despite the prior intelligence made available on the impending attack. Sirisena has denied he was warned of the attacks, claiming in an interview with a BBC journalist: “if I had known about it, would I have allowed it?”
However, it was later confirmed by Wickremesinghe himself as well as in a report by the Sri Lankan parliamentary committee that information was, in fact, received by sections of the country’s security establishment days before the incident.
According to the Sri Lankan parliamentary select committee report, the country’s security forces were given intelligence that showed that an attack was due to take place on Easter Sunday but may have permitted it to ‘create chaos and instil fear’ ahead of presidential elections. That election led to the victory of Rajapaksa who claimed the previous regime ‘diluted’ intelligence services, which he has since pledged to strengthen.
Sirisena has since gone on to claim the attack was planned to disrupt his heavy-handed war on drugs.