Azath Salley released on MR’s order

Saturday, 11 May 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Former Deputy Mayor of Colombo Azath Salley, who was arrested last week for allegedly inciting ethnic hatred, was released yesterday after President Mahinda Rajapaksa retracted the detention order against him, an official said.

Salley, was arrested in the wee hours of 3 May by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) while he was hiding in a house in the capital.

After his release, Salley was admitted to the Nawaloka private hospital in Colombo where he was visited by Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe last afternoon, his lawyer Shiraz Noorden told media.

A visibly weakened Salley thanked all his supporters and spoke briefly with a range of well-wishers including other Opposition politicians.  

His arrest provoked a storm of protest from Opposition political parties as well as civil society members and Non-Governmental Organisations, who insisted that the arrest was illegal and done to suppress dissent against the Government.

However, the Government staunchly defended itself insisting that the arrest was not politically motivated and was made because of comments made by Salley in an interview given to a South Indian media organisation.

Media Centre for National Security Director (MCNS) General Lakshman Hulugalle addressing a press conference in Colombo informed that the statement made by Salley to the Tamil Nadu weekly Junior Vikadan that ‘the Muslims of Sri Lanka have no other alternative but to take up arms’ was a treasonable statement made against the whole country and illegal under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

In addition, Police alleged the Crime Investigation Department and the Crime Division of Colombo had received several complaints against him in connection with financial frauds and breach of trust.

Salley has openly criticised actions of Buddhist hardliners that have increased over the last few months who he alleges are supported by Government inaction.

Salley retaliated by going on a fast, prompting Opposition parties to increase pressure on the Government to release him.