Colombo Chief Magistrate Lal Ranasinghe Bandara today allowed the defence counsel to file preliminary objections on March 15 in the case where former defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Nissanka Senadhipathi and six others were facing corruption charges filed by the Bribery Commission with regard to Avant Garde Maritime Services Ltd.
The BC said the suspects had committed an offence by permitting the the company to operate a floating armoury causing a Rs.11.4 billion financial loss to the State.
The six suspects are: Sujatha Damayanthi, Palitha Piyasiri Fernando, Karunaratne Bandara Adhikarai, Somathilaka Dissanayake, Jayanath Sirikumara Colambage and Jayantha Perera.
In a preliminary objection, Romesh de Silva PC said the prosecution had violated the law vested in Bribery Act (BA) when charging the suspects.
He said the when the suspects were charged under Section 70 of the Bribery Act, the prosecution should have obtained a mandatory sanction, a written consent, from the BC according to its Section 78 (1).
However, in this case there was no such sanction in court, therefore, the proceedings should not be continued, and the suspects discharged from the inquiry.
Senior State Counsel Janaka Bandara prosecuting said according to the Section 11, No.19 of the 1994 Bribery Act, the Director General of the BC was permitted to file charges in court without certification of the BC because the direction was sufficient compliance.
The Magistrate directed the prosecution to conduct the inquiry in the absence of the second accused Sujatha Damayanthi Jayaratne following the evidence led by the prosecution confirming that the suspect was abroad. (Shehan Chamika Silva)