Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Two years in custody Avant-Garde Capt. collapses in Court when told case re-fixed for March 2018

Wednesday, 2 August 2017
Two years in custody, the Master of Avant-Garde Capt. Gennadiy Gavrlov yesterday collapsed in the Supreme Court when told his Fundamental Rights Petition would be re-fixed for 12 March next year.

Said to be a cardiac patient, the Ukrainian Capt. was rushed in an ambulance for emergency services at Nawaloka Hospital following his collapse. Despite his health condition he remains in detention without a charge being filed to date.

The Fundamental Rights petition was filed by Gavrlov challenging his alleged illegal arrest and prolonged detention.

The Bench comprised Justices S.E. Wanasundera, Upaly Abeysundera and Prasanna S. Jayawardane.

The Supreme Court on 17 March granted leave to proceed with his Fundamental Rights petition for the alleged infringement of his fundamental rights to equality, freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention.

Gavrlov, the 49-year-old Captain of MV Avant-Garde, challenged his arrest in early October 2015 purportedly outside Sri Lankan territorial waters and continued detention at the Galle remand prison.

The Petitioner, a father of one child, is being detained in Galle Remand Prison, and claims that he had absolutely no political affiliations to any group or party in Sri Lanka. He laments that he was unfortunate to be embroiled in a political tug-of-war prevailing in the country.

The Petitioner cited the Officer-in-Charge of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Director CID, DIG in charge of the CID and Rakna Arakshaka Lanka Ltd. (RALL), a Government-owned business undertaking affiliated to the Defence Ministry, Avant-Garde Maritime Services (AGMS), Sri Lanka Shipping Company Ltd., Lanka Maritime Services Ltd., Defence Secretary and the Attorney General as Respondents.

The Petitioner states the MV Avant-Garde, chartered by Avant-Garde Maritime Services belonging to Sri Lanka Shipping Company, had been seized in international waters in early October 2015 in the wake of the change of government.

He alleges some of the Respondents subjected him to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment through the false accusation that he had entered Sri Lankan territorial waters in the vessel of which he took command on 24 July 2015.

He states that SLNS Nandimithra, a Fast Missile Vessel (FMV), had taken ‘MV Avant-Garde’ into custody in international waters 15 nautical miles from the baseline.

He further states though the vessel was to be delivered to Sri Lanka Shipping Company as per instructions received in August  2015, he received subsequent directive through proper channels to reach Galle Port.

He states that a seven-member squad of Sri Lanka Navy personnel boarded the vessel at 7:15 a.m. on 6 October 2015, after he refused directives issued by the SLN to proceed towards the Galle Port and drop near the Galle Port. Initially, he had been directed to proceed towards Panadura and drop anchor.

The Deputy Harbour Master of Galle who is also the Acting Residential Manager of the Galle Port in his statement too had admitted that the vessel was seized outside territorial waters of Sri Lanka, he contends.

Manohara de Silva PC with Arinda Wijesurendra appeared for the petitioner. Romesh de Silva PC with Kuvera de Zoysa PC and Sugath Caldera appeared for Avant-Garde Maritime Services (AGMS) and Sri Lanka Shipping Company Ltd. Deputy Solicitor General Ayesha Jinasena appeared for the CID, Defence Secretary and the Attorney General.