Gotabaya Rajapaksa

A corruption case filed against former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and seven others, was yesterday fixed for trial by the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court.

This is for allegedly causing a Rs.11.4 billion unlawful loss to the government when permitting Avant-Garde Maritime Services (Pvt) Ltd, to operate a floating armoury.

Chief Magistrate Lal Ranasinghe Bandara fixed the case for trial on February 26 and March 26.

The Chief Magistrate decided to refuse preliminary objections raised by Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, citing that the Director General of the Bribery Commission is vested with the power to file cases in the Magistrate’s Court in accordance with the Bribery Commission Act.

The defence had raised preliminary objections alleging that the Bribery Commission Director General had filed this case without the written sanction of the Bribery Commission.

Senior State Counsel Janaka Bandara appeared for the Bribery Commission.

President’s Counsel Ali Sabry appeared for the former Defence Secretary.

When the matter came up before the Chief Magistrate, the 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 Court.

The charge sheets comprising 19 counts were served on the accused before the Chief Magistrate.

Meanwhile, the Chief Magistrate had on a previous occasion 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 had filed this case against the 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.

(Source: Daily News – By Lakmal Sooriyagoda)