Responding to reports that Minister Rishad Bathiudeen had influenced Army Commander Mahesh Senanayake to release a suspect arrested over the Easter Sunday attacks, the latter said today no one had influenced him but that the minister did make a request.
“It was a mere request and influence was never exercised. When an individual was arrested, Minister Bathiudeen telephoned me and I gave him two answers which some media outlets interpreted as ‘influence’ whereas it was a request made,” he said.
When asked what the Army Commander’s reaction was to such a request, he said: “First, I told I would look into the matter and revert when he mentioned a name. The second time, I still didn’t look into the matter. On the third time, however, I confirmed to him that such an individual was present and asked him to call back after one and a half years,” he said.
The Army Commander said the minister had inquired about an individual by the name of Mohamed who was arrested in Dehiwala.
When asked about the nature of the request, he said: “The minister tried to describe who the concerned individual’s father was and asked me to look into him and what could be done. When the minister asked what could be done, I then told him to call me in one and a half years time because I have the legal authority to detain him for that long,” he said. (Darshana Sanjeewa Balasuriya)