Channel 4 allegations and Ministry of Defence accountability

Monday, 11 September 2023 01:09 –      – 32

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The UK broadcaster, Channel 4, in an hour-long documentary made startling revelations last week that linked Sri Lanka’s clandestine and powerful intelligence network to the Easter Sunday bombings that killed over 260 people in 2019. A whistle-blower claimed that he arranged a meeting between several of the suicide bombers and the current head of Sri Lanka’s intelligence apparatus.

Major General Suresh Sallay who currently is the Director General of the State Intelligence Service of Sri Lanka, is accused of meeting with the suicide bombers in a secret location several months before the attacks. One whistle-blower claims that Sallay called him on the day of the bombings and instructed him to go to the Taj Samudra Hotel to meet an individual. It was the suicide bomber tasked to blow himself up at the Taj who didn’t detonate his bomb but later killed himself at a lodge in Dehiwela.

Much of the revelations in the Channel 4 documentary were known to many.

One of Sri Lanka’s most competent criminal investigators, Shani Abeysekera who was incarcerated for 11 months by the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration, filed a petition in the Supreme Court in February 2022 where he states that Sri Lanka’s military intelligence interfered on several occasions into the Easter Sunday bombings. In his petition, which has not been refuted by the State thus far, Abeysekera claims that an individual who used the pseudonym of Sonic was associated with the bombers. The former Director of the CID identifies “Sonic” as a person within military intelligence. When individuals associated with the bombings were apprehended by the CID they were later forcefully taken by personnel belonging to military intelligence.

With such damning accusations made against the highest ranking official in charge of all intelligence agencies in the country, the bare minimum that can be expected is for that official to be suspended from duty at least until a proper investigation is carried out. Instead, not only does Major General Sallay continue in his office as Director General of the State Intelligence Service but the Ministry of Defence has now come out with an extraordinary statement, exonerating him without even an iota of care for due process. On his part Sallay too has denied all allegations levelled by Channel 4.

Issuing a statement in the wake of the Channel 4 documentary the “the Ministry of Defence vehemently denounced the accusation of orchestrating the attack and assisting the bombers against a dedicated senior military officer who has served the nation for 36 years.” The statement goes on to say that “this officer was never in Sri Lanka during the period mentioned in the Channel 4 video documentary. Furthermore, during the said period (December 2016 to November 2019), this officer was not employed in the Intelligence and Security Apparatus of the country, nor did he hold any official responsibilities in those fields.”

This again is a fine example of Sri Lanka’s MoD not having a clue to its place within what is supposedly a democratic State. It is the Police that should carry out a criminal investigation, the Attorney General who should prosecute and a competent court that should announce guilt or exoneration. All that the MoD should do at this stage is offer its fullest cooperation with such a judicial process. With a sordid track record of killings and enforced disappearances ranging from the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunga, Prageeth Eknaligoda, and what is known as the Navy 11 case to name a few, expecting such transparency and cooperation from the intelligence apparatus may be wishful thinking. But if it is at least interested in demonstrating a semblance of due process, the MoD should immediately suspend Major General Sallay from active duty, until a competent investigation is carried out into the very serious allegations made against him.

 

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