Written by Tharushan Fernando
22 Oct, 2015 | 9:18 pm
Court granted permission to conduct investigations on the MV Mahanuwara – a vessel of Avant Garde which was found anchored at the Galle harbour in January this year, under the money laundering act.
Galle Magistrate Nilupuli Lankapura granted permission following a request made by the Criminal Investigations Department.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe elaborated on the Avant Garde deal in Parliament on Wednesday.
The Prime Minister stated that in the letter dated September 18, 2012, the then Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, D.M.D. Jayaratne informed the Chairman of Avant Garde that the Minister of Defence had permitted to operate the floating armoury in international waters.
However, the Ministry of Defense is not in possession of the document that was given to anchor the floating armoury at the Galle Harbour.
He added that the only permit for the weapons were from the countries the weapons were issued from. And the accepting and issuing of those weapons are to be done under the supervision of the Sri Lanka Navy. The Ministry of Defence has not granted permission to issue any of the weapons from the floating armoury and in addition, the Ministry of Defence is not in the possession of the documents which detail the weapons nor the country of origin.
He went on to note that the Attorney General has not advised that the case be withdrawn nor to conclude the investigations. As clear instructions were provided to continue with the investigation, the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption will continue with the investigations over bribery allegations while the police will continue with the investigations under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act No. 5 of 2006 and therefore there is no requirement for another external investigation in this regard
State Counsel Shanil Kularatne, appearing on behalf of the CID informed court that there was no sufficient evidence to file action against Avant Garde in terms of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, Explosives Ordinance and Firearms Ordinance.
The Attorneys-at-Law appearing on behalf of the Avant-Garde Security Services [Pvt] Ltd requested court to terminate proceedings.However, the state counsel representing the Attorney General objected to this application and stated that investigations are being carried out under the Money Laundering Act.
The magistrate, after considering the submissions made by both parties, ordered for further investigations to be carried out over Avant Garde under the Money Laundering Act and for further reports to be submitted on February 25 next year.
Questions were raised over Avant Garde at a press conference convened by a collective of Civil Organisations where Executive Director of CAFFE,Keerthi Tennakoon stated that the lawyers from the Attorney General’s Department say that this cannot be done under the Prevention Terrorism Act or the Explosives Ordinance or the Firearms Ordinance and if the Prevention of Terrorism Act does not apply to the place where 3000 weapons were stored , then they need to be burnt to ashes and rubbed on those persons’ foreheads, and over 200,000 bullets were discovered from the second vessel in Galle.
He went on to question as to whether this does not fall under the explosives ordinance and added that if a proper investigation is to be carried out and if the law is to be implemented, the first thing to do is to inquire as to whether the payments due to the Sri Lanka Ports Authority and the other ports have been settled, but even that is not taking place .
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