Defence Secy receives briefing from top officials representing raided security firm

National security won’t be compromised — pro-govt. anti corruption outfit


by Shamindra Ferdinando

Sea Marshals undergoing training with Coast Guard personnel

A pro-government anti-corruption outfit on Tuesday (Jan 20) assured that it wouldn’t pursue a course inimical to national security interests.

This assurance was given by JHU spokesman Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe on behalf of the grouping at a media briefing held at the National Library and Documentation Services Board.

Warnasinghe was flanked by attorney-at-law Shiral Lakthilake, newly appointed Coordinating Secretary to President Maithripala Sirisena and attorney-at-law Maithree Gunaratne.

The JHU official said that media, too, should be investigated as members of print and electronic media had received a range of perks and privileges from the previous government. Members of the media had received laptop computers, apartments, foreign trips as well as vehicle loans at taxpayers’ expense, he alleged.

The watchdog also sought information as regards waste, corruption and fraudulent activities involving artistes, sports officials as well as players, external affairs ministry and higher education ministry officials.

Commenting on the detection of a large quantity of weapons in the BMICH premises, Sunimal Janaranjana, formerly of the police as well as the Special Task Force (STF) alleged that Rakna Arakshaka Lanka Limited (RALL) had brought in an excess load of weapons. Janaranjana emphasised that RALL couldn’t explain why a dozen light machine guns as well as one general purpose machine gun had been acquired in addition to over 2,600 small arms.

The RALL is a state-owned business undertaking in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence to address security concerns experienced by the commercial sector.

Janaranjana alleged that the RALL had failed to produce required documents to prove the legitimacy of its operation.

The former police officer explained that no organisation should have been allowed to maintain such a vast armoury though it was state-owned.

Maj. Gen. (retd) Palitha Fernando had been the Chairman of the Board of Directors of RALL established in Oct 2006 at the onset of the eelam war IV. Maj. Gen. (retd) K.B. Egodawele had been its Chief Executive Officer.

Janaranjana said that they would maintain a close watch over on-going police investigation. Both RALL as well as Avant Garde Maritime Services (Pvt) Limited are now under investigation.

The RALL headquarters is situated at 2G – 26, BMICH, Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 07.

The pro-government outfit alleged that Avant Garde Maritime Services (Pvt) Limited, too, had maintained a large armoury offshore. The outfit is run by retired Maj. Nissanka Senadhipathy.

A senior spokesperson for RALL told The Island yesterday that a top delegation including Navy Commander Vice Admiral Jayantha Perera, former navy Commander Admiral Somathilake Dissanayake, Maj. Gen. (retd) Egodawele and additional secretary civil security and development D.M.S.D. Jayaratne briefed Defence Secretary B.M.U.D. Basnayake regarding the operations undertaken by both RALL as well as its sea going arm.

Having received a comprehensive briefing, Defence Secretary Basnayake acknowledged that it had been a legitimate project.

Responding to a query, the spokesperson said that RALL had earned the respect of the international commercial sector for providing well experienced Sea Marshals for deployment on foreign vessels vulnerable to attacks by sea pirates.

Admiral (retd) Dissanayake said that there was absolutely no dispute as regards the right of law enforcement officers to initiate investigations into information received by them. Therefore, the RALL as well as its partner realised that the police were engaged in legitimate investigations, he said. Unfortunately, the police and various interested parties had reached wrong conclusions even before preliminary investigations were over, the naval veteran said. "The RALL and our maritime outfit provided an opportunity for our ex-servicemen and women to earn a living," Dissanayake said, adding that they wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize national security or commercial interests.

Responding to another query, Dissanayake said that RALL’s sea going outfit conformed to stringent international standards.

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