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

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