By Shamindra Ferdinando
Weapons issued to Nikaweratiya and Elpitiya police stations had been found on board Sri Lanka Shipping Company owned Avant Garde tug chartered by the Avant Garde Maritime Services (AGMS), Health Minister and Cabinet spokesperson Dr. Rajitha Senaratne told a public rally at Warapitiya in the Aluthgama electorate on Tuesday.
Dr. Senaratne stressed the need to inquire into the circumstances under which weapons issued to police had ended up with the AGMS. The Minister called for a thorough inquiry to establish the truth.
Avant Garde carried over 800 assault rifles.
The vessel was returning to Galle at the end of its three-year deployment when the Navy arrested it on Oct. 6. Avant Garde had been based at Port Sudan in the Red Sea.
Dr. Senaratne declared that he would reveal everything related to what he called sordid Avant Garde saga.
The Kalutara District MP declared that former Attorney General Tilak Marapana’s decision to give up Law and Order and Prisons Reforms portfolios was a victory for the government.
However, Marapana will continue as a National List member of the UNP.
In spite of proprietor of the AGMS retired Commando Maj. Nissanka Senadhipathi backing President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s re-election attempt at the January presidential polls, Dr. Senaratne said some members of parliament,
including ministers had got close to the businessman. Those who had expressed views in support of AGMS operation both in and outside parliament should be ashamed of themselves, the minister said.
Minister Senaratne claimed that children of certain members of parliament including ministers had received help from AGMS. Declaring that the Cabinet of ministers had been informed of the sordid relationship, Dr. Senaratne challenged Marapana, one of Senadhipathi’s lawyers, to produce permits obtained by AGMS to bear weapons.
Dr. Senaratne accused Marapana of putting forth silly arguments on behalf of AGMS.
The minister said that he was having a list of weapons found on board Avant Garde.
Claiming that they had tried to change the path former President Rajapaksa was taking, Dr. Senaratne alleged that some UNPers maintained close relationship with the ex-leader. The minister asserted that in spite of the January revolution, those who had benefited from AGMS seemed to be working together.