Ja-Ela steel factory raid: 2 employees arrested

Ja-Ela steel factory raid: 2 employees arrested

Written by Staff Writer

03 May, 2019 | 9:21 pm

Colombo (News 1st): While inspecting a steel smelting factory in Ekala, Ja Ela, two employees of the factory, were arrested in connection with the discovery of a stock of ammunition that included 409 live ammunition bullets and 584 empty gun shells.

Following the discovery of the stock of ammunition, the general manager of the factory Mohomed Haseemdeen noted that after the conclusion of the war, they received a stock of old metal, cleared by security forces in Jaffna. He added that the stock of metal included bullets, shells, similar to what was discovered today. The stock came in containers under the seal of the defence ministry. He went onto note that the suppliers brought them and all the bullet casings that came in the containers were smelted.

He stated that there was a minor explosion once, however, no one sustained serious injuries and following this incident, they refrained from smelting bullet casings. Subsequently, he said they ordered the workers to remove all shells and bullets shells and locked it in a storeroom. It has been in that state for the past seven years.

He said that there was a presidential commission of inquiry, somewhere in 2014 0r 2015, in connection with this and he had given a statement as to how they received the items.

When journalists questioned if he was in possession of the relevant document for these items, he noted that they purchased these items in the form of old steel and that there are no documents when purchasing old steel or metal.

Police media spokesperson SP Ruwan Gunasekara noted that the Sri Lanka army and air force have provided their support to conduct further investigations into this matter. He added that two managers employed at the factory, one named Mohamed Junaid Haseemdeen and the other named Mohamed Fawaz have been arrested.

SP Gunasekara said that those arrested are currently detained at the Ja-Ela police station.

Political Reaction

SLFP General Secretary Dayasiri Jayasekera noted today that the police will reveal through investigations if these are ammunition circulated through Avant-Garde or other means.

“Do they have serial numbers? Don’t they have them? Have the numbers been erased? How can these weapons go out in such a situation? How is there a stock of weapons like this,” questioned the parliamentarian. He added that the police will be able to prove all of this with clear evidence.

Following are a few reports News 1st aired with regard to Avant-Garde and such situations.

On October 5th 2015 the Avant-garde incident was reported in all media. News 1st took steps to investigate these reports and carried out investigative journalism segments on these reports to provide facts to the general public.

Weapons connected to the Avant-Garde Maritime Services Company were found at the premises of the BMICH and at two floating armouries. The issue was used as a rallying cry in 2015 by the opposition.

Two ministers in the government Thilak Marapana and Wijeyadasa Rajapaksha were alleged to be connected to Avant Garde. This led to the subsequent resignation of Thilak Marapana from the position of Minister of Law and Order.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Commission appointed to probe large scale fraud and corruption recommended that legal action be filed against former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, former additional secretary Damayanthi Jayaratne, Chairman of Avant-Garde Nissanka Senadhipathi and 13 others who were connected to the transactions of Avant-Garde and Rakna Lanka.

The Presidential Commission observed that legal action can be filed against the chairman of Avant-Garde under the weapons ordinance for the possession of unlicensed weapons. A number of cases are currently ongoing over the activities of Avant-Garde Maritime Services.

Eight defendants including former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa have been charged for causing the state a loss of Rupees 11400 million by providing the environment for the continuous functioning of the floating armoury of Avant-Garde Maritime Services.

Major General Palitha Fernando and Major Nissanka Senadhipathi were charged by the Bribery Commission for soliciting bribes.

Another case is ongoing at the Galle Magistrates court on the matter and the Criminal Investigations department reported to the court that they are unaware of the location from which the weapons on the floating armoury were sourced. The CID further stated that the weapons are unlicensed.

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