The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Presidential Candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa and 7 others have been discharged and released from the Avant-Garde floating armoury case.
This is as per the order of the Colombo Magistrate’s Court after receiving the Court of Appeal judgment on the case.
A copy of the acquittal order from the Appeals court was produced before the Colombo Chief Magistrate Lanka Jayaratne when the case was taken up today (23).
Accordingly, the seven defendants including the Gotabaya Rajapaksa were ordered to be released from the case.
The Bribery Commission had filed a case with the Colombo Magistrate’s Court against the former Defense Secretary and eight defendants for incurring a loss of Rs 11.4 billion to the government by allegedly allowing Avant-Garde Maritime Services (Pvt) Ltd to maintain a floating armoury at the Galle Port.
The defendants of this case include Chairman of Avant-Garde Nissanka Yapa Senadhipathi, former Additional Defense Secretary Damayanthi Jayaratne, and the former Coordinating Secretary of the Ministry of Defense, Major General Palitha Fernando.
Three former navy commanders Somathilaka Dissanayake, Jayanath Colombage and Jayanath Perera have also been named as defendants of the case.
However, the former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa filed a revision petition at the Appeal Court seeking a court order declaring the case illegal and to acquit him from all charges.
Accordingly, the Court of Appeal directed the Colombo Magistrate Court to acquit all accused including Rajapaksa from the Avant-Garde case, ruling that the manner in which the Bribery Commission had filed the lawsuit is against the law.
However, the order from the Court of Appeal has mentioned that there is no legal objection against the Bribery Commission preventing them from filing another case against the defendants following due process of law, pointed out the Magistrate.
Meanwhile, the Defense Attorney of the eighth defendant of the case, former Secretary to the Ministry of Defense Damayanthi Jayaratne, requested the Magistrate to remove the arrest warrant issued on their client as the court had ruled to acquit them from the case.
An arrest warrant had been on the said defendant as she had left the country, absconding from the court.
The Magistrate directed the defendant’s attorney to produce the defendant before the court to seek a recall of order as an arrest warrant has already been issued on her.