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Gota’s Avant Garde case re-fixed for March 26

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 when giving permission to Avant-Garde Maritime Services (Pvt) Ltd to operate a floating armoury was yesterday re-fixed for trial on March 26 by the Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court.

When the case came up before Chief Magistrate Lal Ranasinghe Bandara, several defence counsel that appeared for the defence party moved Court that the trial be fixed for another date since they have to appear before the Supreme Court. Taking into consideration facts, the Chief Magistrate decided to fix the trial for another date and witness number three of the case was advised to appear in court on the next trial date.

Meanwhile, the Court was informed that first accused Gotabhaya Rajapaksa had filed a revision petition in the Court of Appeal challenging Chief Magistrate’s Court and Colombo High Court’s decision to refuse preliminary objections raised by Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

At a previous occasion, the Chief Magistrate decided to refuse preliminary objections raised by Gotabaya Rajapaksa citing that 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. 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 Anil de Silva with Ali Sabry PC appeared for the former Defence Secretary.

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

Meanwhile, the Chief Magistrate had at a previous occasion allowed to proceed with the case in absentia of second accused Sujatha Damayanthi, former Additional Secretary of the Defence Ministry. The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption had 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.