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TISL takes bribery and corruption allegations surrounding X-Press Pearl disaster to SC

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Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) filed a petition in the Supreme Court on Monday (12 June), seeking to intervene in the ongoing Fundamental Rights case (SC/FR/Application No.168/2021) filed by the Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) and three more petitioners, highlighting the serious allegations of bribery and corruption surrounding the X-Press Pearl disaster.

The intervention petition filed in the public interest refers to serious allegations of irregularity, mishandling, sabotage, bribery and corruption surrounding the claim for compensation, arising from the X-Press Pearl disaster.

Several key points have been raised in the intervention petition: The grave allegations of interference and extraneous pressure surrounding the claim for compensation arising from the X-Press Pearl disaster; the statement by the Justice Minister in Parliament on 25 April, 2023, that one Chamara Gunasekara, alias Manjusiri Nissanka, had received a payment of USD 250 million into a private bank account in connection with the X-Press Pearl disaster; The media statements of Chinthaka Waragoda, who reportedly invented a machine to remove debris which washed ashore after the shipwreck, alleging that he was offered payment to discontinue the use of his machine, to avoid exposing the full extent of the damage caused by the disaster; and the Questions surrounding the quantum of compensation due to Sri Lanka for the damages caused by MV X-Press Pearl.

The freight ship ‘MV X-Press Pearl’ caught fire, off the coast of Colombo, on 20th May, 2021. It sank a few days later, releasing its cargo of plastic pellets and tons of toxic chemicals into the ocean, causing Sri Lanka’s worst maritime disaster to date. It is alleged that Sri Lankan authorities obtained the assistance of the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Limited (ITOPF), a representative of the insurer of the Shipowner, in the post-disaster activities, despite the grave conflict of interest arising from it.

TISL has urged that the private parties involved in the X-Press Pearl incident be held accountable, and be made to pay optimal compensation for the damage and pollution caused to the marine and coastal ecology of Sri Lanka, and the payment of compensation for the loss caused to the fishing communities and those engaged in tourism, as well as obtaining compensation under the Marine Pollution Prevention Act. TISL has also highlighted the need to hold anyone guilty of wrongdoing fully accountable.

The petition for intervention is to be mentioned for Support in the Supreme Court on Thursday (15 June).

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