Sri Lanka is conducting investigations to find out whether some Saudi nationals were involved in the Easter Sunday attacks may need Saudi Arabian help to verify the identities of three persons who were here at the time of the April 21 blasts but left the country the following day.
Authoritative sources acknowledged that foreign assistance was required in that regard.
The police investigating the alleged involvement of former Eastern Province Governor MLAM Hizbullah with those responsible for Easter Sunday attacks have recorded a statement from the UPFA politician regarding his meeting with a group of Saudi nationals the day after six coordinated attacks which claimed the lives of 260 persons.
Police headquarters sources said that the Terrorist Investigation Division (TID), on Saturday, (15) questioned Hizbullah in this connection.
According to Police headquarters Hizbullah met two Saudi nationals at a luxury hotel at Pasikudah during countrywide night curfew and a CCTV footage showed him leaving the hotel with three foreigners. Police headquarters said that though reference was made to two foreigners subsequent inquiries revealed the presence of a third one.
Hizbullah, who arrived at the TID on Saturday at 9.45 am, left the office close to 6 pm.
With the help of the CCTV footage, the police have identified the three Saudi nationals. In addition to Hizbullah, several other persons were questioned. Employees of the hotel where the Saudis stayed are believed to be among them.
Having tendered his letter of resignation to President Maithripala Sirisena on June 03 at the Presidential Secretariat, Hizbullah told the media that the foreigners were investors and there was absolutely nothing clandestine about his meeting with them. Hizbullah claimed that he had explained to President Sirisena the circumstances under which the meeting had taken place at the Pasikudah hotel.
The TID questioned Hizbullah two days after a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) inquiring into Easter Sunday attacks questioned the politician, who served as a UPFA National List member of parliament till January this year.
However, many an eyebrow has been raised over the failure on the part of the PSC to question Hizbullah on his meeting with the Saudi nationals. The PSC proceedings are open to the media.
The PSC consists of Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri, Chairman (UNP/Moneragala District), Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka (Democratic Party/UNP National List), Ravi Karunanayake (UNP/Colombo District), Dr Rajitha Senaratne (UNP/Kalutara District), Dr. Jayampathy Wickremaratne (LSSP/UNP National List), Prof. Ashu Marasinghe (UNP National List), Rauff Hakeem (SLMC/UNP Kandy District), MA Sumanthiran (TNA/Jaffna District) and Dr Nalinda Jayatissa (JVP/Kalutara District).
Asked why Hizbullah had not been questioned regarding the alleged Saudi connection, a spokesperson for the PSC asserted that the then Eastern Province Governor meeting foreigners was not considered relevant to their mandate. When it was pointed out that the allegedly secret meeting, revealed by the media couldn’t be ignored, the spokesman said that Hizbullah’s meeting with foreigners had not crossed his mind.
Officials said that Sri Lanka really appreciated the support extended by Saudi Arabia since the inquiry into April 21 attacks commenced. They pointed out the swift extradition of five hardcore National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) activists, including Mohamed Milhan, believed to be the right-hand man of suicide bomber Zahran Hashim on Friday underscored the Saudi cooperation.
Copyright: The Island/ Asia News Network (ANN)