Champika riled by Avant Garde chief going abroad despite CID probe

NEC seeks explanation from Solicitor General

by Shamindra Ferdinando

The National Executive Council (NEC) has sought an explanation from the Office of Solicitor General as regards Avant Garde Maritime Services  (Pvt) Limited chief Major Nissanka Senadhipathy’s foreign travel in spite of an on-going inquiry into alleged misuse of weapons by his company.

Navy headquarters, too, threw its weight behind Avant Garde. Navy Commander Vice Admiral Jayantha Perera and his predecessor retired Admiral Somathilake Dissanayake had recently joined a delegation that made representations to Defence Secretary B. M. U. D. Basnayake on behalf of Avant Garde.

Power and Energy Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka had raised what he called Maj. Senadhipathy’s sudden departure prompting the NEC to call for an explanation from the Solicitor General, well informed sources revealed.

The NEC was informed that the Colombo Chief Magistrate had ordered relevant authorities to impound the passport of Major Senadhipathi. The court directive was given consequent to the detection of an armoury on board a vessel anchored at the Galle harbour.

The NEC comprises senior members of political parties in the government as well as the JVP and the four-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA).

Sources said that Minister Ranawaka had expressed his displeasure at the Avant Garde chief leaving the country at a crucial stage of the investigation.

Many an eyebrow had been raised over the role played by the Office of the Solicitor General in Avant Garde affair. The name of one-time minister in the UNP-led United National Front (UNF) government (Dec 2001 to April 2004), too, transpired in this connection.

However, others alleged that the government had been engaged in a witch hunt. Sources emphasised that Avant Garde had been managing a legitimate operation to counter pirates. Avant Garde Maritime Services (AGMS) was working in partnership with the government as one of the major operators of floating armouries in the Indian Ocean region.

The police also recorded a statement from Admiral Dissanayake.

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