Avant Garde Chairman Nissanka Senadhipathi and seven others were acquitted and discharged yesterday by the Permanent High Court Trial-at-Bar in connection with maintaining a floating armoury in the seas off Galle harbour.
The case was heard before a three-judge bench comprising Justices Aditya Patabendige, Manjula Tillakaratne and Mahen Weeraman.
The Attorney General had filed 7,573 charges against them including operating a floating armoury onboard the MV Avant Garde off the coast of Beruwala near the Galle Harbor, illegal possession and transportation of 203,395 live ammunition without a licence on board the ship and causing a financial loss to the tune of Rs. 11.4 billion to the state by granting approval to the Avant Garde Maritime Services to operate a floating armory in the Galle Harbor from 07 August 2012 to 8 January 2015. On the 17th of January 2020, after considering the objections, the Permanent High Court Trial-at-Bar said only 19 charges could be carried forward.
Justice Patabendige, declaring the verdict, said that former defence secretary, Karunasena Hettiarachchi had told the court that the Defence Ministry had given permission to Avant Garde and Rakna Lanka Company, established under the Defence Ministry, to maintain a floating armoury in the Red Sea.
Hettiarachchi said there was Defence Ministry permission to keep arms and ammunition in the ship. The defence submitted a letter issued by the Defence Ministry to prove this and the prosecution had failed to prove that this was not an authentic document. Hettiarachchi had also agreed that it was an authentic document, Justice Patabendige said.
The other defendants acquitted are former Chairman of Rakna Lanka Security Company Victor Samaraweera, Vishwajith Nandana Diyabalanage, Nilupul de Costa, former Additional Secretary of the Defence Ministry Saman Dissanayake, Albert Thilakaratne and the Ukrainian Captain of the ship, Gennadiy Gavrylov. P.B. Premachandra, who had also been named as a defendant in the case passed away during the trial.
DG Information ignorant of basic election laws and regulations: ECSL
by PRIYAN DE SILVA
The Election Commission (EC) has expressed its disappointment at controversial statements made by some public officials about elections. It says some top government official, including the Director General of Government Information, are not familiar with the basic election laws and regulations laid down in the Constitution.
The EC says it may be due to his ignorance that the Director General of Government Information has issued the Special News Release, on 29 January, claiming that ‘the gazette notification, with the signatures of the Chairman, and other members of the Election Commission, required for the commencement of the Local Government Election process, has not yet been sent to the Government Press for printing’. The EC has said such notices have to be signed and sent by the relevant Returning Officers in accordance with section 38 of the Local Authorities Election (Amendment Act) No 16 of 2017, and not by the members of the EC.
The EC has confirmed that the notices from the Returning Officers were sent to the Government Press on Monday (30).
The EC’s Media release also points out that the DGI may be unaware that Article 104GG of the Constitution states that if any public official refuses or fails without a reasonable cause to comply with the Commission he or she has committed an offence.
Article 104GG of the Constitution says: (1) Any public officer, any employee of any public corporation, business or other undertaking vested in the Government under any other written law and any company registered or deemed to be registered under the Companies Act, No. 7 of 2007, in which the Government or any public corporation or local authority holds fifty percent or more of the shares of that company, who – (a) refuses or fails without a reasonable cause to cooperate with the Commission, to secure the enforcement of any law relating to the holding of an election or the conduct of a Referendum; or (b) fails without a reasonable cause to comply with any directions or guidelines issued by the Commission under sub-paragraph (a) of paragraph (4) or sub-paragraph (a) of paragraph (5), respectively, of Article 104B, shall be guilty of an offense and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand rupees or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to both such fine and imprisonment.”
AKD says no improvement at Sapugaskanda oil refinery since it went into production in 1969
The capacity of the Sapugaskanda Oil Refinery (SOR) has not increased since it was established in 1969, National People’s Power (NPP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake says.
Speaking at a public rally recently he that in 1969, the SOR used the most advanced technology available at the time.
“CPC started construction in 1968 and SOR started operations, refining oil, on August 5th, 1969. During that time, the CPC could refine 50,000 MT of crude oil. 55 years later, the capacity remains the same. In 1969, the CPC started with the most advanced technology available at the time. Technology has improved now. We are still refining oil with 1969 technology,” he said.
Dissanayake said that Sri Lanka built a fertiliser factory to use the byproducts of the refinery and, in 1982, a newspaper reported that 5000 MT of urea, produced by that factory, was exported to Pakistan. Today, that factory is closed.
“The CPC also had a nylon factory, as a subsidiary. We built our own nylon thread fish nets. By-products of the refinery were used as pesticides and insecticides for our pineapple and flower production. Those factories were closed, too. We had a candle industry from the by-products, we produced lubricant oil. It was sold to American Caltex. Refinery produced fuel for airplanes. It has the capacity to sell USD 1.4 million worth airplane fuel per day. We can buy crude oil, refine, and sell to ships. These are opportunities we must use to earn foreign currency. Recently this section of the CPC was privatized,” he said.
The ruling class has failed to secure even the most important assets, he said. Agriculture, land, gems, ilmenite, our natural resources, so will these rulers protect what is left, he asked.
“They have absolutely no plan to build this country. Selling our resources, closing down factories and selling valuable machinery is what they know. Every government has taken part in the destruction of the refinery. This is why we need a change in the economy. We need to transform our economy. Only NPP can do that,” he said.
The NPP leader said that the existing constitution concentrates too much power in the hands of the executive president. Sri Lanka has had this executive presidential system for 40 years and executive power was used against the people, repressing them.
“Our economy was destroyed. It has done no good to this country. One man cannot develop the country. Individuals have capacities and limitations. We need to unite our capabilities to govern this country. It’s a collective effort and the NPP is the only party to undertake it. That’s the point of difference. There are talented people from all fields like history, economy, mathematics, law and so on. There are lawyers, university academics and professionals. The government has to unite these capacities and talents to bring optimum results for the country. NPP will do that. For that we have to abolish executive presidency and rewrite the constitution vesting more powers in the Parliament. We will bring about this change,” he said.
Dissanayake said an NPP administration will limit the number of Ministers to 18. He added that crossovers have distorted the democratic system and corrupted the political culture.
“People vote for them in one party but for money and positions they change political allegiance. This has become a public nuisance. Some MPs demand ransom to stay in the party. We will add a provision to the Constitution to ban crossing over,” he said.
JVP: Where are President’s influential foreign friends?
By Rathindra Kuruwita
President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who assumed duties, claiming that he had very influential friends overseas, now claims he can hardly afford to pay government servants, National People’s Power (NPP) MP Vijitha Herath says.
“If anything, things are worse than before. The government is afraid of the people and is trying to postpone elections,” Herath said, adding that the March 09 local council election would mark the beginning of the end for the Ranil-Rajapaksa administration.
Herath said so addressing an NPP election rally recently.
“They will no longer be able to pretend that the people are with them. Not that they have any legitimacy, locally or internationally, but the level of their unpopularity will be seen on 10 March,, when the poll results are announced” he said.
Strong winds over Eastern, Uva, Western, Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces and in Galle, Matara, Mullaitivu, Jaffna and Kilinochchi districts.
DG Information ignorant of basic election laws and regulations: ECSL
Navy men and women record wins at Inter Club rugby matches
‘Dates have the highest sugar content to fight Coronavirus’
Sunday Island 27 December – Headlines
U.S. Congress to probe assets fleecing by US citizens of Sri Lankan origin
Midweek Review6 days ago
Westminster event declares support for Canadian action against Rajapaksa brothers
Opinion5 days ago
Simple questions to Sirisena and Gotabaya
Opinion5 days ago
Nelum Kuluna poses danger to aircraft
Opinion6 days ago
Open letter to Sirisena
Features5 days ago
Vibrant ties with M-E, a foreign policy priority for SL
Features6 days ago
Is recolonisation final solution?
News5 days ago
Treasury blamed for missing paddy stocks worth Rs 1.3 bn
Features1 day ago
Implementing 13A: Some thoughts