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Sirisena to testify before PSC at Presidential Secretariat

President Maithripala Sirisena will testify before the Parliamentary Select Committee probing the Easter Sunday attacks but the inquiry will be held at the Presidential Secretariat and not in Parliament, highly placed sources told RepublicNext today 2 Sept.

The date for the session has not been confirmed and it is not known whether he will testify under oath, these sources said.

He has however agreed to allow the Media to report the proceedings.

The hearing will be a formal meeting of the Select Committee except that it will convene in the Presidential Secretariat.

He will also be the first executive President to testify before a Parliamentary Committee.

The development is surprising for multiple reasons.

Sirisena has been obstructing the Parliamentary probe since the beginning and refused to allow senior Security Forces and Intelligence officials from being questioned by the panel of MPs.

However, the officials who were summoned did attend the PSC hearings as ordered by Parliament.

Sirisena has also commented that the entire PSC process was a political stunt by the United National Party to embarrass him.

“It is a drama that is written, directed and rehearsed at Temple Trees in the night and played out during the day to the Media in Parliament,” he told reporters in July.

The MPs, who are mostly from the UNP except for M A Sumanthiran from the TNA and Nalinda Jayatissa from the JVP, are likely to ask him searching questions on each of the incidents where his name was mentioned by other witnesses.

Sirisena’s name has transpired in many of the depositions that were taken from key officials involved in the events leading up to the Easter Sunday suicide attacks that devastated the economy and raised communal tensions.

The key fact that the State Intelligence Service was forewarned by Indian Intelligence that Islamic extremists were planning suicide attacks on Churches and Hotels on Easter Sunday is now proved, but whether the President was informed about the warning is not known.

If it had been conveyed to him and he, as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and Minister of law and Order did not take preventive action, then his culpability in the massacre will be high.

The President can also expect questions as to why he did not invite Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to Security Council sessions, as it has been customary in the past.

He may also be asked to comment about an accusation that IGP Pujith Jayasundera made before the PSC, that the President asked him to take the blame for the attacks and resign, and he would be rewarded with a diplomatic posting.

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