Emails sent by captain of Cargo Vessel X-Press Pearl deleted by local agency: AG’s Department

Emails sent by captain of Cargo Vessel X-Press Pearl deleted by local agency: AG’s Department

8 June 2021 08:13 am

A number of Emails sent by the captain of the Cargo Vessel MV X-Press Pearl which took on fire in the sea near the Colombo Port were deleted by the Sri Lankan agent of the relevant shipping company, divulged Deputy Solicitor General Madhava Thennakoon appearing for the Attorney General's Department before the Colombo Magistrate Court yesterday (07).

The captain and crew of the ship had been aware of a nitric acid leak from a container 10 days before the accident, he revealed.

The fact that the emails detailing these information were deleted by the local agent was confirmed during the statements collected so far, he went on, adding that in the backdrop, the company had requested permission to enter the Colombo Port as the vessel was in a safe condition.

Deputy Solicitor General went on that the same company that had informed the Colombo Port of the ship's safe condition on May 19 had again informed the Port that there was a chemical leak on the ship on the morning of May 20. 

Accordingly, the Deputy Solicitor General requested the Court to issue a notice to seven members of Sea Consortium PVT LTD, the local shipping agent for X-Press Pearl, including its Managing Director Arjuna Hettiarachchi, to appear before Court in the allegation of bringing the cargo vessel into local waters by concealing truth and producing contradictory statements.

However, Sarath Jayamanna PC, appearing for the ship's captain, stated in objection that the Magistrate Court has no power to handle a case of this nature, but the High Court. Acknowledging the circumstance, Additional Magistrate of Colombo Shalani Perera stated that her Court has no power to issue notices as per the request of the AG's Department. 

The Magistrate, nevertheless, accepted the other requests made by the AG's Office and ordered the Navy Commander to provide security to the area where the ship is currently located. She also ordered the local agent's managing director to hand over the email database to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to inspect the email messages exchanged between the ship's captain and the local agent at the time of the accident.

The CID Director has also been directed to refer the VDR obtained from the vessel to the Government Analyst and prepare a report.