Fonseka loses appeal as top court rules court martial legal
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 25, 2011, 23:15
  
Colombo: Sri Lanka's detained former army chief Sarath Fonseka on Tuesday lost an appeal to retain his parliamentary seat, as the Supreme Court ruled that the court martial which sentenced him to a 30-month rigorous jail term for corruption in defence deals was legal.

The five-member bench of the Supreme Court today ruled that the court martial is a court accepted under the Sri Lankan constitution.

It ruled that a court martial verdict in September last year which found him guilty of arms procurement offences meant that he was no longer qualified to be a member of parliament.

59-year-old Fonseka was convicted by two military court martials last year following his entry into politics after serving as the country's top general. He had petitioned to appeal to the court challenging the first court martial decision which stripped his rank and pension. The court of appeal directed the query to Supreme Court to decide whether the court martial is constitutional.

Fonseka was later imprisoned by another court martial for 30 months jail term and he lost his parliamentary seat due to the conviction.

He had contested the April 8, 2010 general elections from Colombo district and won a seat on the ticket of the DNA that he led.

The retired general's brief stint as an MP came to a sudden end in the wake of the 30-month imprisonment for corruption in defence deals on October 1, 2010.

The ruling was later approved by President Mahinda Rajapaksa in his capacity as the commander in chief of the armed forces. He was sent to jail for alleged corruption in defence deals during his tenure as the army chief.

The former four-star General, the key military figure who led the armed forces to a remarkable victory over the separatist Tamil Tigers in May 2009, fell out with his former commander in chief, President Rajapaksa and ended up challenging him at the January 2010 polls.

Within two weeks of losing the election, Fonseka was arrested and tried by military courts.

PTI


First Published: Tuesday, January 25, 2011, 23:15


comments powered by Disqus