Sri Lanka orders fresh arrests over Avant Garde floating armoury

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s attorney general Friday ordered the arrest of eight people, including the secretary to the independent Police Commission over the Avant Garde floating armoury case involving illegal gun running and money laundering.

Dappula de Livera asked the acting police chief Chandana Wickramaratne to immediately arrest the suspects and produced them in court after the Supreme Court on Thursday rejected their petitions to block any police action against them.

The current Secretary to the Police Commission Saman Dissanayake was an additional secretary to the ministry of defence when he had authorised illegal weapons transfers to Avant Garde Maritime Services.

It is understood that Dissanayake may have carried out verbal instructions of the then defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa whose then deputy Damayanthi Jayaratne was also named an accused Friday.

Although  de Livera ordered their arrest, both of them have fled the country. Dissanayake is believed to have left the country shortly after his imminent arrest was known. Damayanthi Jayaratne had last year fled to New Zealand and failed to respond to any court summons.

The police are expected to seek an Interpol Red notice for her arrest and repatriation to Sri Lanka.

Avant Garde chief Nissanka Senadhipathi is also a main suspect and the AG demanded that police arrest him immediately, but he too has left the country earlier this week.

The case relates to what is said to be an illegal transfer of government weapons to Avant Garde from the Sri Lankan navy. A lucrative sea marshals business was transferred to Avant Garde.

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is facing a separate bribery and corruption case for defrauding the country of 11.4 billion rupees.

The others who are to be arrest4ed following the AG’s latest order are: retired majors general Palitha Fernando and Karunaratna Banda Adhikari Egodawele, retired air vice marshal P. B. Premachandra, retired commodore Vishvajith Nandana Diyabalanage and former Rakna Lanka chairman Victor Samaraweera. (COLOMBO, July 5, 2019)