Court dismisses amended indictment | Daily News


 

Avant Garde floating armory case

Court dismisses amended indictment

The Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar yesterday refused to accept the amended indictment filed by the Attorney General in connection with the Avant Garde floating armory case. The case was taken up before the Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar bench comprising High Court Judges Dhammika Ganepola (President), Adithya Patabendi and Manjula Thilakarathne.

Delivering the order, the Colombo High Court Trail-at-Bar observed that amended indictment filed by the Attorney General is contrary to the law and the trial cannot proceed with the amended indictment.

The Bench further observed that according to the section 167 of the Criminal Procedure Code, charges cannot be maintained against the accused who had already been released from the case. The Bench pointed out that if the trial proceeds with the amended indictment, it will be a prejudice to the defence.

Therefore, the Colombo High Court Trail-at-Bar unanimously refused to accept the amended indictment. The prosecution was directed to proceed with 19 charges out of 7,573 charges against eight accused.

The case was fixed for trial on May 4 and the case will be taken up again on March 2 as a calling date to consider whether all the requirements for the trial had been completed.

The defence in previous hearing presented their preliminary objection against the indictment of the Avant Garde floating armory case and stated that the indictment that filed by the Attorney General is flawed and the counsels who appeared for first accused, Rakna Arakshaka Lanka Limited and second accused, Avant-Garde Maritime Services (Pvt.) Limited pointed out thet charges against the accused and stated that with the charges, a criminal case cannot be maintained against a private limited company. After considering the facts, five accused in the Avant Garde floating armory case were ordered to be released from the case and prosecution was ordered that only 19 charges among 7,573 charges could be maintained against the other eight accused by the Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar.

Accordingly, the Colombo High Court Trial-at-Bar ordered to release first accused, Rakna Arakshaka Lanka Limited, second accused the Avant-Garde Maritime Services (Pvt.) Limited, third accused former Rakna Lanka Chairman, retired Major General Waduge Palitha Piyasiri Fernando, fourth accused, former Rakna Lanka CEO retired Major General Karunaratna Banda Adhikari Egodawele, and 12th accused former Senior Additional Defence Secretary Damayanthi Jayaratne from the case due to the inability to maintain the charges against the accused under the Firearms Ordinance and Explosives Ordinance. Following the order, the Attorney General had taken steps to revise the previous indictment. The prosecution, therefore, sought permission from court to proceed with the trail with amended indictment comprising 882 charges against the accused and reclaim the three other accused who have been released by the Colombo High Court. The defence raised an objection and stated that the request made by the Attorney General to reinstate the accused who have been been released from the case is totally contrary to the law.

According to the previous indictment, the Attorney General submitted that the accused have committed punishable offences under sections 22(1) and 22(3) of the Fire Arms Ordinance and section 113B, 102, 189 and 190 of the Penal Code for illegally operating merchant vessel ship MV Avant Garde carrying a stock of firearms and explosives including 816 unlicensed automatic firearms and 202,935 rounds of ammunition on the high seas off Galle. Additional Solicitor General Sarath Jayamanna and Senior State Counsel Janaka Bandara appeared on behalf of the Attorney General.

 


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