In a significant development, the Supreme Court has granted permission to Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) to intervene in Case No. SC/FR 168/2021. This case was originally filed by the Centre for Environmental Justice, with the aim of securing fair compensation for the victims affected by the X-Press Pearl disaster.
TISL’s intervention petition, filed earlier this year, faced strong objections from the Attorney General. However, on October 6th, the Supreme Court issued its order, ultimately allowing TISL’s application for intervention. The decision was made after taking into account the overall circumstances of the case and the arguments presented.
Senior Counsel Mr. Senany Dayaratne represented TISL, along with Attorneys-at-Law Ms. Lasanthika Hettiarachchi, Ms. Sankhitha Gunaratne, Ms. Nishadi Wickramasinghe, and Mr. Thiru Amirthalingam. They were instructed by Attorney-at-Law Thushari Jayawardena. On the opposing side, ASG Mr. Nerin Pulle, PC, and DSG Ms. Nayomi Kahawita appeared for the Attorney General.
Several significant points were raised in TISL’s intervention petition, including:
- Allegations of Interference and Extraneous Pressure: TISL brought attention to serious allegations of interference and extraneous pressure surrounding the claim for compensation related to the X-Press Pearl disaster.
- Justice Minister’s Statement: TISL highlighted the statement made by the Justice Minister in Parliament on April 25, 2023, which alleged that one Chamara Gunasekara, also known as Manjusiri Nissanka, had received a payment of USD 250 million into a private bank account in connection with the X-Press Pearl disaster.
- Chinthaka Waragoda’s Claims: TISL pointed to media statements made by Chinthaka Waragoda, who claimed to have invented a machine for removing debris washed ashore after the shipwreck. He alleged 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.
- Questions About Compensation Quantum: TISL raised questions about the quantum of compensation that Sri Lanka is entitled to for the damages caused by MV X-Press Pearl.
This development in the X-Press Pearl case highlights the growing scrutiny and complexity of the legal proceedings surrounding the environmental disaster, with TISL’s intervention potentially shedding light on various issues and allegations related to the case.