Written by Lahiru Fernando
30 Sep, 2016 | 9:13 pm
Colombo Chief Magistrate Gihan Pilapitiya granted bail to former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and six others in connection to the Avant Garde case.
Charges were filed by the Bribery Commission on August 30 before the Colombo Chief Magistrate Court for allegedly causing the government a loss of Rs. 11. 4 billion by allowing Avant Garde Maritime Services (Pvt.) Ltd to operate a floating armoury.
Notices were issued on eight persons including former secretary of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Chairman of Avant Garde Nissanka Senadhipathi, former Navy Commanders Admiral Somathilake Dissanayake, Admiral Jayantha Colambage and Admiral Jayantha Perera to appear before court.
Seven of the respondents appeared before court while former additional secretary of the ministry of defence Damayanthi Jayaratne failed to appear in court.
The former president, MPs from the joint opposition and members of the clergy were among those who were present for the hearing.
When the case was taken up on Friday, the attorney appearing for Gotabhaya Rajapaksa emphasised the need for a certificate of consent from all three commissioners of the Bribery Commission for the case to be filed. He called on court to conclude hearing the case as such a certificate was not presented.
As facts were being presented on the matter, Attorney-at-Law Janaka Bandara appearing on behalf of the Commission requested for a recess – as the matter needs to be debated.
Court thereby adjourned for a period of 45 minutes.
Following the recess , Attorney-at-Law Janaka Bandara presenting two rulings issued by the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court said that the Director General of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption has the power to file such a case.
Taking the facts in to consideration, Colombo Chief Magistrate Gihan Pilapitiya released Rajapaksa and the six others on a cash bail of Rs.200,000 each and a surety of Rs.10 million each.
They were also banned from travelling abroad.
Following the hearing, the former secretary of defence commented on the statement made by the Northern Province Chief Minister.
“… When everyone was calling not to hold elections in the North when the former president wanted a fair poll, an election was held. A Chief Minister was elected. He is a former justice. It is completely wrong for such an individual to make baseless statements …”, said Gotabaya Rajapaksa
Among all this, an individual was arrested by police for recording footage from outside the court premises.
The Criminal Investigations Department filed a case against the wife of MP Wimal Weerawansa, Sashi Weerawansa for obtaining a passport without following protocol.
The case will be taken up on November 25.
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