The Colombo Chief Magistrate’s Court today refused to put off for another date the reading of the charges to the accused and fixed the trial on the corruption case against former defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and seven others.
The Bribery Commission (BC) filed 19 charges against the suspects for causing a Rs.11.4 billion loss to the government by permitting Avant Garde Maritime Services (Pvt) Limited to operate a floating armoury. The BC named 60 witnesses in the case.
When the case was taken up before Colombo Chief Magistrate Lal Ranasinghe Bandara, he rejected the preliminary objections raised by defence counsel on an earlier occasion and the charges were read out to the suspect.
Earlier, when the matter came up before the Chief Magistrate, President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva appearing for the first accused Gotabaya Rajapaksa had raised preliminary objections that the Bribery Commission Director General had filed this case without the written sanction of the Bribery Commission.
He said when the charges were brought up in Court under Section 70 (Corruption), the prosecution should obtain a mandatory sanction or a written consent from the BC according to Section 78 (1) of the Bribery Act.
However, Senior State Counsel Janaka Bandara appearing for the BC informed Court that the Commission had given its consent to this legal action and requested the Magistrate to fix the case for trial.
The Magistrate fixed the case for trail on February 26 and March 26, 2018. (Yoshitha Perera)