Ukrainian Capt of Avant Garde moves SC against his ‘illegal’ arrest, prolonged detention

...alleges vessel seized outside Lankan waters



By Shamindra Ferdinando

Ukrainian Gennadiy Gavrylov, Captain of ‘MV Avant Garde’, that had been embroiled in alleged arms smuggling controversy, has moved the Supreme Court against what the petitioner called his wrongful, unjustifiable and illegal arrest on the morning of Oct 6, 2015 and the continuing detention.

There hadn’t been a previous case of a foreigner filing fundamental rights application in Sri Lanka in terms of Article 11, Article 12 (1), Article 13 (1), and Article 13 (2)

The respondents are Officer-in-Charge of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Director, CID, DIG, CID and Rakna Arakshaka Lanka Limited (RALL), a government-owned business undertaking affiliated to the Defence Ministry, Avant Garde Maritime Services (AGMS), Sri Lanka Shipping Company Limited, Lanka Maritime Services Limited, Secretary Ministry of Defence and the Attorney General.

The foreigner accused some of the respondents of subjecting him to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment through the false accusation that he had entered Sri Lankan territorial waters. Gavrylov has taken over the command of the vessel on July 24, 2015.

The petitioner has alleged that SLNS Nandimithra, a fast missile vessel (FMV), had taken ‘MV Avant Garde’ into custody in international waters 15 nautical miles from the baseline. According to the petitioner, though the vessel was to be delivered to Sri Lanka Shipping Company as per instructions received in Aug 2015, he received subsequent directive through proper channels to reach Galle port.

Gavrylov has claimed that a seven-member squad of SLN personnel had boarded the vessel at 7.15 am, on Oct 6, 2015, after he refused directives issued by the SLN to proceed towards the Galle port and drop near the Galle port. Initially, Gavrylov had been directed to proceed towards Panadura and drop anchor.

The Deputy Harbour Master of Galle who is also the Acting Residential Manager of the Galle port in his statement too had admitted that the vessel was seized outside territorial waters of Sri Lanka, the petitioner alleged.

The 49-year-old Ukrainian filed FR petition in the wake of Ukraine intervening on behalf of 49-year-old Gavrylov, a father of one, now held at the Galle remand prison.

A top spokesperson for Sri Lanka Shipping Company Limited told The Island that the AGMS and RALL had entered into an agreement to provide international maritime security services and chartered one of its vessels, MV Merou, for deployment in East Africa. Having chartered the vessel, the AGMS, a subsidiary of Avant Garde Security Services (Pvt) Limited, had named it MV Avant Garde.

Sri Lanka Shipping Company owns seven vessels at the moment. The spokesman said that the vessel had been handed over to the company on Dec 16, 2016 on a directive given by the Galle Magistrate Court in November last year and left for India on the following day. The vessel had been sold to an Indian enterprise engaged in the lucrative business of scrapping ships. The vessel was to be scrapped at Alang scrapyard in Gujarat, the spokesperson said, adding that authorities had seized the vessel while it was on way back to Sri Lanka at the conclusion of overseas maritime security services.

The vessel had been chartered for a period of two years with effect from April 1, 2014 to operate in Red Sea.

The Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration seized the vessel alleging that it had entered Sri Lankan waters without proper authorization and posed a threat. The government also accused former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa of giving former Army Commando Maj. Nissanka Senadhipathy, proprietor of Avant Garde Security Services, contract for maritime security services without following proper procedures, a charge denied by Rajapaksa.

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