Citizen’s movement behind 8 January struggle says Marapana abused Parliament to defend a client
Charges that ‘leaders who appointed him’ must take responsibility for Minister’s conduct
Claims Marapana’s defence of Avant Garde reflects real reasons for delays prosecuting corruption
Purawesi Balaya (Citizens’ Power), a leading civil society movement behind the 8 January struggle to install President Maithripala Sirisena in the presidency has called on Law and Order Minister Thilak Marapana to resign after he defended the actions of controversial private security company Avant Garde in Parliament on Wednesday.
Co-convenors of the movement, a group of highly respected academics, artistes and trade union leaders, issued a statement yesterday condemning Minister Marapana for his shocking defence of the security firm that was found to be renting weapons licenced to the Sri Lankan Government from the company’s floating armouries operating across several continents, without parliamentary oversight or even cabinet sanction.
Minister Marapana admitted to having provided legal advice to the head of the controversial company, Nissanka Senadhipathi during his speech in Parliament. He also accused the Police, a department falling within his purview as Minister for Law and Order, of “trying to score a point” with its raid and investigation of the Avant Garde floating armoury docked in Galle.
“His remarks in Parliament on Wednesday have confirmed that Thilak Marapana is not a politician suited to the Yahapalanaya era,” co-convenors Dharmasiri Bandaranayake, Dr. Gamini Viyangoda, Saman Ratnapriya, K. Janaranjana and Joseph Stalin said in a statement released yesterday.
“The nature of the Avant Garde company is a mirror into the politics and business dealings of the Rajapaksa culture. It is the present leaders of the Yahapalanaya Government who created this perception in this country. But for some time now it is being indicated that there is no great opposition to corruption within the Yahapalanaya system. The excuses have been that ‘it takes time to implement the law’, ‘investigations must be done properly’, ‘this must not seem like a witch-hunt’. But yesterday, Minister Marapana proved to the country the real reasons for the delay in bringing the corrupt before the law,” the statement said.
“That is”, the movement’s convenors said, “by clearing Avant Garde of all charges in Parliament.”
Purawesi Balaya said that Minister Marapana had also confirmed something the entire country already knew during his Parliament remarks – that he was the lawyer for Avant Garde.
“On the one hand, he is a lawyer representing the rights of a company facing major charges pertaining to the country’s security before the courts. On the other hand, he is using the people’s assembly to defend and absolve his client. This is a huge conflict of interest,” the civil society group said.
The group said that for a Parliamentarian to take fees from a company and stand up in the legislature to defend that same company was “daylight robbery”. “Thilak Marapana using Parliament to represent Avant Garde is an abuse of the legislature,” the group said.
Purawesi Balaya accused Marapana of “standing Yahapalanaya on its head” by using Parliament to defend a company facing corruption charges.
Given the charges Avant Garde is facing, both the Minister of Law and Order and the leaders who appointed him to that position must take responsibility for the Minister’s conduct, the group charged.
The Group said that as a civil society organization that worked to bring about the Yahapalanaya regime, it had a duty to ensure the administration maintains a clean image.
“Purawesi Balaya demands that Thilak Marapana should resign immediately as Minister for Law and Order and as a member of Parliament,” the group said in its statement. (DB)
Marapone should take legal action against Police: SF
By Chamodi Gunawardana
The Democratic Party (DP) yesterday claimed Law and Order Minister Tilak Marapone should take legal action against the Police, if it had raided the Avant-Garde vessel to score points.
DP Leader Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka charged Marapone could not pass the ball to the Police by saying it had taken that step only to impress the new Government.
Marapone on Wednesday told Parliament that Police raided the Avant-Garde floating armoury at the Galle Harbour soon after the election to attract the Government’s attention. The Minister also stated that it was similar to the Millennium City affair in 2002.
“The DP still maintains its opinion on the Avant-Garde case, that the ship has violated International Maritime Security Law. I know who wants to hide the true state of affairs in this regard but I am incapable of naming them,” he claimed.
Commenting on the Government’s decision to release LTTE prisoners, Fonseka said: “The President is able to release prisoners under a general amnesty and if he has decided to do so, no one can stop it.”