ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s police today turned down a request to renew the licences for 56 guns used by the controversial private security company Avant Garde whose maritime operations have been taken over by the navy.
The police Senior Superintendent’s office at Mirihana rejected an application by Avant Garde to renew their firearms licence on the basis that the company and its chief were facing criminal investigations.
The rejection is another blow to the private security company whose operations were taken over last month by the navy following an order by President Maithripala Sirisena who received an investigation report from defence authorities.
Officials said the private security company was told that they must first clear their name before renewing the gun licences. Even retired police and military personnel entitled to carry weapons must ensure that there are no criminal charges against them if they want to hold onto their officially-issued weapons.
Last month President Sirisena ordered the cancellation of a joint venture deal between Avant Garde and the defence ministry’s private arm known as RALL. Avant Garde is under investigation for money laundering as well as possessing illegal weapons.
An audit of weapons aboard a second floating armoury of Avant Garde at the Galle harbour turned up 59 illegal weapons which were sufficient to arrest owners of Avant Garde, police said.
The serial numbers of the automatic weapons had been obliterated to prevent them from being traced to original owners. The case was taken up in parliament too during the on-going committee stage debate of the 2016 budget.
Former law and order minister Tilak Marapana quit last month after he staunchly defended Avant Garde, a former client before he became a minister. (Colombo/December 15 2015)