23 June, 2024


The Accuser & The Accused; Is Suresh Sallay In The Cross Hairs Of A Witch Hunt?

By Mass L. Usuf

Mass Usuf

“You are morally tainted if you don’t treat both the accuser and the accused with fairness and with respect, and with due process.” ~ John Kennedy

Given the avalanche of a mixture of information and misinformation, truth and lies, facts and fabrications, rumours and speculations, the answer to the above question prima facie will be a resounding, “Yes”. Cicero famously said, “When you have no basis for an argument, abuse the plaintiff.” This is not a brief in favour of Major General Suresh Sallay but, even an accused person has his own rights in law and in society which cannot be discounted under any circumstances.  

Lesson learnt throughout history is that an accused is found guilty or not by way of leading evidence in a court of law.  A person cannot be faulted based on emotions, perceptions, imaginations and prejudice however much strong such sentiments may be. These do not dictate the process in the Temple of Justice. Neither can a person be made culpable based on propaganda to create a specific and/or desired public opinion via the social media, press conferences, TV shows etc. These are accepted moral and decent characteristics of a respectable democratic society. It is sad to note however, that in an environment of gross impunity, ‘paraplegic’ rule of law, questionable governance system, corruption and racism can true and real justice be served.

“Every person shall be presumed innocent until he is proved guilty” is a universally accepted legal principle also, enshrined in our Constitution under the Chapter on Fundamental Rights.

Cowardly Campaign

“On May 23 Sri Lankan newspaper Divaina, known for its nationalist stance, published a front-page article alleging a Muslim doctor had secretly sterilized 4,000 Sinhala Buddhist women after caesarean deliveries.” (Reuters, June 6, 2019). The heightened drama that ensued thereafter with the active involvement of the Buddhist extremists, racists, monks and political opportunists continued unabated targeting the Doctor, Mohamed Shafi. By extension the entire Muslim community was despised, hated and frowned upon just as Dr. Shafi.  

Though the media propaganda machine and biased public opinion based on fabricated stories and damn lies had already found him guilty, the courts acquitted Dr. Shafi. All those shameless, cowardly, dastard fellows who were in the forefront at that time stoking the fire went into hiding. However, it is said that the damage caused by false accusations often lasts long even after the truth has been revealed.

What has Suresh Sallay done?

According to the doctrine of Natural Justice fairness and equity supreme all else. Therefore, every person should be given a fair hearing (audi alteram partem) before any decision is taken against such person. In the case of Major General Suresh Sallay, the media has hyped up the issue to the extent that public opinion has tilted against him even before he has been given a fair hearing. General Sally is a serving Officer and is subjected to the protocols relating to his position. He is, therefore, unable to call for a press conference like every Tom, Dick and Harry and publicly deny the allegations made against him.  

According to the UN Principles of access to justice, there are people who are unable to have their voice heard, exercise their rights, challenge discrimination or hold accusers accountable. For such person’s access to law and the rule of law are the avenues to justice. Since this right is available for him, he has rightly opted for the route of seeking legal remedy against the allegations. American broadcast journalist and war correspondent Edward Roscoe Murrow said, “accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.” 

Father Rohan Silva

On 31 Aug 2023 national newspapers reported that the Attorney of the Director General of the State Intelligence Service (SIS), Major General Suresh Sallay has sent a Letter of Demand for Fifty Million Rupees to compensate for the damage due to a statement allegedly made by Executive Director of the Center for Society & Religion (CSR) Father Rohan Silva during a recent press conference. General Sallay has categorically refuted that he has not in any capacity communicated or met the individual named Mohamed Zahran at any given point of time. The General also vehemently denies the allegation that he has provided financial aid or any other form of support to the individual named Mohamed Zaharan and/or any one of his followers and/or any such organization he was involved in.  His Attorney states, “these statements are absolutely false, malicious, and outright defamatory. These allegations are based on unsubstantiated, distorted, and manipulated facts that aim to tarnish Major General Sallay’s reputation.”  

Rev. Father Cyril Gamini Fernando 

Way back in November 2021, General Sallay had instructed his Attorney to issue a letter of demand to Rev. Father Cyril Gamini Fernando, Parish Priest, St. Anne’s Church, Kurana demanding for damages of Rs. Fifty million. The letter of demand states, “the said false and defamatory publications have caused injury to the reputation and further caused pain of mind to my client.”  It further states, “the statements made by you with regard to my client are absolutely false, malicious and outright defamatory.  Moreover, these allegations levelled against my client are nothing but unsubstantiated, distorted and manipulated facts.”

Member of Parliament Nalin Bandara 

Several months before that General Sallay through his attorney challenged the several false allegations made by Hon. Member of Parliament Nalin Bandara Jayamaha. He had, among others, said at a press conference that the Director of the State Intelligence Services has not testified before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the Easter attacks. General Sallay has rebutted this allegation stating that he had in fact, in more than five occasions being present at the Commission and provided testimony. In the letter of demand dated 25 March 2021, his Attorney states, “your statements in this press conference have attempted to create an impression based on false and wilfully fabricated facts to link my client to certain individuals with whom he has no associations and to incidents that had taken place in the country at a time when my client was either based overseas or employed elsewhere.”

It is learnt that defamation cases have been filed in the District Court against Rev. Father Cyril Gamini Fernando and Hon. Member of Parliament Nalin Bandara.

All those who had made several allegations now have an opportunity to prove their case and save the Rs. Fifty million demanded as damages from each.

Channel Four Broadcast – Chronology

Prior to the Channel Four broadcast on 05th September 2023, there had taken place correspondences between the Attorney of General Sallay, the Office of Communications (Ofcom) in London and Basement Films/Channel 4.

1. On 7th August 2023, Mr. Ben de Pear Founder of Basement Films wrote to General Sallay stating that a film will be broadcast with testimony alleging his involvement in four areas mentioned therein. Briefly: (1) that he had met with Zahran (2) that he had said Rajapaksas require an unsafe situation for them to win the election (3) that he had asked a TMVP operative to go to Taj Samudra and take the phone of someone and (4) that he had played a role in the Easter bombings. The letter asked if he wishes to respond to these allegations.

2. On 9th August 2023 General Sallay responded that the allegations (1) and (2) are outright false. He said, during that period he was serving as Minister-Counsellor in the Sri Lankan diplomatic mission in Malaysia. This can be verified from the Malaysian authorities. The third allegation is also outright false, as he was attending a training programme in the National Defence College in India from January 2019 to late November 2019. This can be verified from the Indian authorities. As for the fourth allegation, he said that he has no connection whatsoever with the Easter bombing. He further stated that during the period in question he was not attached to the defence or security structure of the country nor did he bear any responsibility connected to defence or security. 

3. As a follow up to the earlier letter, on 11th August 2023 his Attorney wrote to Mr. Ben de Pear cautioning him that the allegations have no basis in fact and/or law and the same has already been brought to his notice. Further, should you choose to broadcast the allegations with knowledge that they are untrue, it will be considered as malicious and defamatory statements. The Attorney wrote that his client reserves the right to take legal action against any broadcast without substantial evidence which would tarnish his reputation.

4. On 14th August 2023, his Attorney wrote to Ofcom in London over the intended malicious publication/broadcast by Basement Films/Channel 4.  Ofcom is the regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries. The letter requests the Ofcom to intervene and ensure that any baseless materials is not published.

Hara-kiri or Common Sense

Channel Four network went ahead with the broadcast. Soon after the broadcast, a complaint was lodged by the Attorney of General Sallay on 6th September 2023 with the Ofcom in London over the malicious publication/ broadcast by Basement Films/Channel 4. “I am now instructed that the said publication has been since broadcasted on Channel Four on 05th September 2023.  My client has formerly lodged a complaint with the Ofcom in this regard dated 06/09/2023 bearing reference no. 011667664.” says the complaint.

In general, a false accusation will psychologically traumatise and psychosocially impact the person and his family.  Researchers commonly state that the society continue to carry the false accusation and stigmatise the person even after the person is cleared of it.

Since ‘imagination’ is something not yet ‘taxed’ by the government, it is free of cost. I am imagining if General Sallay had really met with Zahran, had financially supported him and done all what has been alleged against him would he, in his proper senses, risk court proceedings by filing defamatory cases. He will be committing hara-kiri isn’t?  Also, boldly warning Channel Four network that civil action will be taken even against them. 

Something to ponder about, is it not?

Ministry of Defence

With a bang comes a strongly worded statement from the Ministry of Defence on 09th September 2023 titled, “Official rebuttal to channel 4’s Reprehensible allegations regarding the Easter Sunday attack”.  

“On behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka, the Ministry of Defence hereby categorically refutes these false allegations and reiterates the government’s unwavering commitment to the truth, justice and the well-being of the Nation.” The statement goes on to say, “This documentary audaciously shifts the blame of the Easter Sunday attack onto Military Intelligence and Major General Suresh Sallay, the present Director General of the State Intelligence Service of Sri Lanka.  The Ministry of Defence vehemently denounces the accusation of orchestrating the attack and assisting the bombers against a dedicated senior military officer who has served the nation for 36 years.”

This is a clean bill of health to Major General Suresh Sallay from the Ministry of Defence. 

*Mass L. Usuf, LL.B (Hons) U.K., Attorney at Law, Ex-Advisor to former Presidential Private Department of UAE). Can be reached via email at: ctcolumn@yahoo.com

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Latest comments

  • 4

    The Accuser & The Accused; Is Suresh Sallay In The Cross Hairs Of A Witch Hunt?

    The president says he was not informed then information is already there with concern.
    It’s easy to wake up a person who is sleeping but it’s hard to wake up someone who is pretending to be asleep. If anyone is hiding the information it is hard to find.

    • 1

      “It’s easy to wake up a person who is sleeping but it’s hard to wake up someone who is pretending to be asleep.”
      Would you not agree that it is a rather common ailment even among participants here.

  • 6

    I am not saying that Sallay did it, but it is not necessary for Sallay to have been in Sri Lanka to commit the offense. In today’s context, the ‘Remote Control’ word and action is sufficient to carry out the misdeed.

    • 2

      But the evidence that C-4 has used claims his presence.
      Let us keep an open mind and seriously seek answers where there is doubt and not resort to lazy guesswork.

  • 13

    I am not sure whether this articles objective is fairness and justice or just to protect another Muslim who was or was not party to the worst crimes against humanity for money and quick rise to power.

    If Karuna can go to UK with a officially issued passport under a different name, I think a politicians wife too got caught with multiple passports with different name do you think a high ranking intelligence official is going to be working with a single passport.

    There were so many children that lost their life and others their parents, he too does have children, if he is involved may Gods curse fall upon him and his children.

  • 7

    OK, so Sally can prove that he was out of the country on the occasion when he was supposed to have been introduced to the bombers. Certainly, it seems that it was C4 committing hara kiri when they went ahead with the broadcast, despite warnings from Sally’s attorney. Sally was quick to claim damages from critics in SL, so has he done the same with C4? Afterall, this is international & more serious than allegations in SL, which can be attributed to hearsay.
    C4 was the reporter, the ‘messenger’, & gave the opportunity to GR & Pillyan to say their side of the story too but they both declined. Aren’t they going to sue C4 as well? They can all certainly expect more than Rs 50m each for deformation. Something to ponder, if they don’t.
    OFCOM is known to ‘rap the knuckles’ of offending broadcasters by forcing them to withdraw incorrect statements with an apology, even without being sued by the offended party but so far, nothing. Early days or has OFCOM been bought over?

    • 5

      “Sally was quick to claim damages from critics in SL”
      This says as much about the SL judiciary as it says about Sally.

      “has he done the same with C4? “
      I don’t think so. But it will be great if he files a case in UK. C4 will submit all its evidence, witness statements and Sally can submit his defense. All this will become public documents, unless the court decides otherwise.

    • 1

      salley is quick to sue in srilanka because the government will delay the hearing and also corrupt it..For C4 there will be a quick hearing and no corrupt one too.

    • 4

      “OK, so Sally can prove that he was out of the country on the occasion when he was supposed to have been introduced to the bombers.”
      remember Gota providing fake diplomatic passport to Karuna?
      How many passports Sally or for that matter all these guys carries/carry to slip in and out of the country?

  • 1

    If proper investigation not carried out after channel 4 news huge propaganda will definitely not help any investigations in future. This will cause the life time demage to innocent victims of all communities.
    How the corruption charges was only
    carried out by medias and subsequently it helped them to escape by blaming medias.

    Explainer On Claims Of Anonymous Hackers Releasing Rajapaksa’s’ Hidden Assets To The Dark Web!


    Are these Medias diverting the general public in support of those culprits?
    Each and every one pointing out medias not investigations. They are now relaxed challenging them to go to court against any corruption charges against them.

  • 6

    “This is a clean bill of health to Major General Suresh Sallay from the Ministry of Defence.”
    Haha, bloody joke! Does the Ministry of Defence have any credibility?
    Ask the Ministry whether any war crimes were committed by the SL security forces during the war with the LTTE and especially during the final days of the war.

  • 6

    “All those who had made several allegations now have an opportunity to prove their case and save the Rs. Fifty million demanded as damages from each.”
    You mean all those prisoners including Rishard Badudeen, all those who made allegations against Muslim doctor for illegal treatment on 4000 Sinhalese women, and all those who made allegation against LTTE men for killing policemen at Vavunativu and all those who branded Lasantha as LTTE and killed him etc. etc. should pay Rs. 50 million.

  • 4

    Was Pillayan released from prison on the basis of audi alteram partem?
    Also trial Judges were changed to give effect to this eh?
    The Attorney General then saw through this audi alteram partem!

    With no malice towards you what you have stated are in the books behind your photo to this essay. Hardly ever followed to the last letter………………..

  • 5

    Mr. Yusuf, I may be wrong but hardly you have advocated so passionately on behalf of those innocent Muslims, incarcerated by Rajapaksa Govt, on made up charges. ( Dr. Shaffi, poet . . . . . . among many others). What do you think about Ali Sabry showing up with his son at the U.N general assembly ????? . I guess they too feel strongly as you, to defend Suresh Sallay. Why not, hand over the case to international experts ??? Let them figure out, so that you can peacefully sleep.

    • 6

      By the way I just saw Ali’s response to the public cry on his son”s presence at U.N events said “my son studying in the U.S assist me voluntarily, because of such demanding schedule during my visits, my son accompanies me and helps in drafting official statements, interventions, speeches……………….” Great, isn’t it. Mr. Yusuf, do you have children ???? May be they can help you in advocating for other innocent victims. Audi Alteram Partem, my foot.

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