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12 November 2015 04:36 pm - 7     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The government is concerned over the questionable behaviour of MV Avant-Garde just before the raid on it by the Sri Lanka Navy early October and President Maithripala Sirisena has asked Police Chief N.K. Illangakoon to submit a report to him on the whole episode and also on the take over of the Rakna Lanka security firm by the Sri Lanka Navy under its wings, Cabinet spokesman and Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said

At the special cabinet meeting held on Monday it was decided to instruct the Sri Lanka Navy to take over the responsibility and operations of providing maritime security to ships sailing in the Indian Ocean bordering African Countries with immediate effect, Minister Senaratne told the weekly cabinet news briefing today.

“The Navy Commander who was present at the cabinet meeting said he was ready to take over the Rakna Lanka security firm under the Sri Lanka Navy as it was run by the Navy in the past. Solicitor General Suhada Ganmlath who was also present at the cabinet meeting said it was the best option,” Minister Senaratne said.

The Floating Armoury, MV Avant Garde which entered Sri Lankan waters, without prior notification, was seized by the Sri Lanka Navy on October 6.

The agents of the Ship first said that MV Avant Garde did not carry any weapons other than weapons used by four Sea Marshals boarded in the Ship. But during the inspection that followed after the raid it was found that there were LNGs, T56, S84 and hundreds of other light automatic weapons on board the ship, Minister Senaratne said.

“The Sri Lanka Navy had been monitoring the movements of the vessel entering Sri Lankan waters but when it sailed near the Maldives Islands, its GPS (Global Monitoring System) had been put off which was highly suspicious," he said.

Minister Senaratne pointed out that MV Avant Garde had obtained permission to berth at the Colombo Port but it attempted to enter the Galle Harbour. The serial number of 43 weapons had been deleted which was also questionable.

It was revealed during the preliminary inquiry that former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa had given ‘Blanket Permission’ to carry weapons onboard ships belonging to Avant Garde security firm bypassing the normal procedure, he said.

Minister Senaratne said investigators must find out how weapons of the Sri Lanka Navy used by Rakna Lanka security firm ended up in the hands of Avant Garde security establishment also how some of these weapons came under the possession of a private firm by the name of Seaport Ltd. The normal procedure is to hand over those weapons to armed forces, police or Sea Marshals.

Minister Senaratne emphasized that all Defence Ministry officials who had connections with the controversy had admiited the entire process was wrong but they were not in a position to say ‘no’ to Mr. Rajapaksa.

The Sri Lankan flagged vessel, has been identified by the Sri Lanka Navy as the floating Armoury known as Avant Garde, and says that it has entered the Sri Lankan Territory from Sudan without prior notification. When inquired for the vessel to enter the Galle Harbour, the vessel in response has said it wanted to disembark the sailors and hand over the vessel to the Sri Lanka Navy.

The Sri Lanka Navy had boarded the vessel on October 6, 114 nautical miles away from the Galle Harbour. The Navy Commander noted that the Navy personnel had discovered 810 illegal firearms. The crew aboard Avant Garde had said the weapons belong to Rakna Arakshaka Lanka. Although a Sri Lankan was listed as the skipper of the vessel, investigations have revealed that a Ukrainian was in fact at the helm of the vessel.

It was also revealed that 3,473 weapons had been issued to Rakna Arakshaka Lanka by the Sri Lanka Navy but only 89 of them were licensed.

Responding to a journalist, Minister Senaratne said the inquiry was continuing on the controversy and certain government Ministers would have a tough time when the whole truth was exposed upon the conclusion of the ongoing inquiry. (Sandun A Jayasekera)
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  Comments - 7

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  • Mm Friday, 13 November 2015 08:11 AM

    Fed up of this Avent Guard nonsense. Now start doing something for the people of this country to develop.

    Goliwog Friday, 13 November 2015 08:49 AM

    That was a nice press briefing. A brave man who does not fear big names. You make our Alma Mater proud.

    Thomas Friday, 13 November 2015 09:06 AM

    From fraud to fraud and mystry

    chux Friday, 13 November 2015 03:35 PM

    Pls note this is not a burning issue in our country.You all supposed to outline how to eradicate poverty....

    Mason Friday, 13 November 2015 12:27 PM

    the Avant-Garde floating Armoury has been the brain-child of Gotabaya Rajapakse and the orders issued by him appear illegal. Why has he not been taken into custody ?

    suraj Friday, 13 November 2015 12:30 PM

    We the international community and local group are extremely proud of you sir,you have the guts to name the corrupt, you do have to worry we know that you seek justice to what happenedwe are extremely greatful sir yo you clean up the avan guard find the truth,great sir

    S.Sriranjan Friday, 13 November 2015 05:53 PM

    By eradicating Corruptions!


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