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Monday, February 26, 2024

Sri Lanka: Case against Gota fixed for August trial

A corruption case filed against former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and seven others for allegedly causing a Rs.11.4 billion unlawful loss to the government by permitting Avant-Garde Maritime Services (Pvt) Ltd to operate a floating armoury was fixed for August 11 by Colombo Chief Magistrate’s court on 12th July.

When the matter came up before Chief Magistrate Lal Ranasinghe Bandara, both parties were directed to submit their written submissions regarding defence’s preliminary objections before next hearing date.

President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva appearing on behalf of first accused Gotabaya Rajapaksa raised a preliminary objection alleging that the Bribery Commission Director General filed this case without the written sanction of the Bribery Commission. He moved Court that case proceeding pertaining to the matter be terminated since the case was filed without the consent of the Bribery Commission.

The Defence Counsel further moved Court that the notices issued against the accused be recalled since the notices were done injuria.

However, Senior State Counsel Janaka Bandara appearing on behalf of the Bribery Commission informed Court that the Bribery Commission had given its consent to this legal action. He said the Director General of Bribery Commission is vested with power to file cases in the Magistrate’s Court in accordance with the Bribery Commission Act and a judgement issued by the Court of Appeal.

When the matter came up before the Chief Magistrate, seven accused, former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Avant Garde Chairman Major Nissanka Senadhipathi, former Navy Commanders Somatilleke Dissanayake, Jayanath Kolambage and Jayantha Perera, Rtd. Major General Palitha Piyasiri Fernando and Banda Adhikari were present in Courts.

At a previous occasion the Chief Magistrate had allowed to proceed with the case in absentia of second accused Sujatha Damayanthi, former Additional Secretary to the Defence Ministry.

The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption filed this case against eight accused under Section 70 of the Bribery Act.

The Bribery Commission alleged that the accused had given permission to Avant-Garde Maritime Services (Pvt) Ltd to operate a floating armoury between August 7, 2012 and January 8, 2015 in violation of laws by providing unlawful income to this private company, amounting to Rs.11.4 billion.

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