Sri Lanka's ex-Army chief to be court martialed this week

07:30, March 10, 2010      

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Sri Lanka's defeated presidential candidate and former Army chief General Sarath Fonseka will be produced before the Court Martial this week as the gathering of evidence has been concluded, the Army said on Tuesday.

Military spokesman Prasad Samarasinghe, who declined to mention a specific date, said Fonseka would be produced at any given date during this week.

"He will face five or more charges under the Army Act," said Samarasinghe.

Though he is detained at a navel base since Feb. 8, two weeks after the presidential polls, the government has not announced the exact charges against him so far.

According to Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Fonseka was taken into custody for conspiring to topple the government while in uniform.

The spokesman said the summary of evidence was handed over to Army Commander Jagath Jayasuriya on Sunday.

"After consulting Army legal experts, the Army Commander will appoint the Court Martial soon to begin trials," Samarasinghe said.

But the spokesman said he is still unaware of how many legal experts would be appointed to hear the trial.

The summary of evidence was completed within 22 days after questioning 35 people including 22 Army personnel and seven policemen, said Samarasinghe.

The 59-year-old Fonseka is considered a war hero among the Sri Lankans for commanding his troops to crush Tamil Tiger rebels who had been fighting for an independent Tamil homeland in the north and east for more than two decades.

Fonseka challenged the incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the presidential election held on Jan. 26, but he lost the election to Rajapaksa by about 1.8 million votes.

Source: Xinhua
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