September 16, 2019
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    AG requests for HC Trial-at-Bar to hear Avant-Garde case

    August 22, 2019

    The Attorney General today (21) directed a letter to the Chief Justice requesting the appointment of a Trial-at-Bar in Colombo High Court over MV Avant Garde arms trafficking case involving Nissanka Senadhipathi and 12 others.m Attorney General’s Coordinating Officer State Counsel Nishara Jayaratne said the 13 defendants in the case will be prosecuted under 7573 charges.

    The defendants will accordingly be charged for the commission of offences including those punishable under Sections 22(1) and 22(3) of the Fire Arms Ordinance as amended by Act No. 22 of 1996, Sections 9(2) and 27(1) of the Explosives Ordinance as amended by Act No. 33 of 1969 and Sections 113B, 102, 189 and 190 of the Penal Code.

    The High Court of Colombo has been informed that the 815 automatic fire arms and 202,935 live ammunition rounds, taken into custody from Merchant Shipping Vessel MV Avant Garde by the naval officers on the 6th of October 2015, were in unlawful possession, the Attorney General’s letter said.

    Considering the nature of offences, the circumstances relating to the commission of the offences and complex nature of the available evidence, the Attorney General has accordingly requested the Chief Justice to appoint three judges of the High Court for the trial of the accused.

    He has further requested the Chief Justice to name one of the three judges as the Chairman of the judge bench.

    The 13 accused in the case include:

    Rakna Arakshaka Lanka Limited
    Avant Garde Maritime Services (Pvt) Limited
    Major General (Rtd.) Waduge Palitha Piyasiri Fernando - Chairman of Rakna Lanka (November 2007 - January 2015)
    Major General (Rtd.) Karunaratna Banda Adhikari Egodawele – CEO of Rakna Lanka (July 2007 – May 2015)
    Ponnuthurai Balasundaram Premachandra - General Manager of Rakna Lanka’s Ocean Security Unit
    Victor Samaraweera - Chairman of Rakna Lanka (from May 2015)
    Don Albert Thilakaratne – Rakna Lanka representative in MV Avant Garde
    Yapa Hettipathiranalage Nissanka Yapa Senadipathi - Avant-Garde Chairman
    Commodore (Rtd.) Vishvajith Nandana Diyabalanage - Avant-Garde Maritime Services
    Nilupul de Costa - Avant-Garde representative in MV Avant Garde
    Gennadiy Gavrylov – Ukrainian captain of MV Avant Garde
    Dissanayake Mudiyanselage Saman Dissanayake – Secretary, National Police Commission/Former Senior Additional Secretary, Ministry of Defence
    Sujatha Damayanthi Jayaratne – Senior Assistant Secretary to Defence Ministry (April 2014 – January 2015)

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