The Captain of the fire-ravaged container ship MV X-Press Perl was today ordered to be released on personal bail by the Colombo High Court.

The suspect T. Vitali, a Russian national was arrested and produced before Court by the officers of the CID, conducting investigations into the worst ever beach pollution hazard in the country.

The suspect was ordered to be released on a personal bond of two million rupees after he was produced before Colombo High Court Judge Damith Thotawatte.

The Court further issued an order preventing the Captain from leaving the country. The passport of the suspect was ordered to be kept under court custody. The order made in respect of the travel ban was ordered to be communicated to the Controller General of Immigration and Emigrations, all airports and ports in the country.

Deputy Solicitor General Madhawa Tennakoon appearing for the CID alleged that the captain and crew of the ship had suppressed the fact that there was a chemical leak in the ship when entering Sri Lankan waters.

The Deputy Solicitor General further said that the fire had caused immense environmental and economic losses to the country and the Marine Pollution Prevention Authority had appointed a committee of experts to study the environmental damage caused by the fire.

The Deputy Solicitor General further said that the fire has caused disturbances to other ships carrying crude oil from the sea to the land.


He further stated that the Captain was arrested and produced before the court as he had committed an offence under Section 26 of the Marine Pollution Prevention Act.

While denying the prosecution’s claims, President’s Counsel Sarath Jayamanne, appearing for the Captain, said that his client had informed the Harbor Master that there was a fire onboard the ship.

He said that a group of officers from the Harbor Master had boarded the ship at around 4.30 pm on May 20 and had been staying there for about one and a half hours while observing the fire.

Further High Court hearing fixed for July 1.


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