Fonseka moved to prison, defiant supporters to move court

Sri Lanka`s ex-Army Chief Sarath Fonseka`s defiant supporters dismissed any chance of the war hero making a plea to President Mahinda Rajapakse.

Colombo: Sri Lanka`s ex-Army Chief Sarath
Fonseka has been sent to a prison after being court-martialled
to serve a 30-month rigorous jail term, but his defiant
supporters dismissed any chance of the war hero making a plea
to President Mahinda Rajapakse.

The 30-month sentence after a court martial on charges
of corruption in defence deals was ratified by the President
and subsequently Fonseka was transferred to the prison from
his detention centre at the naval headquarters.

Prisons Commissioner Major General V R De Silva said
that the 59-year-old former Army Chief was brought to the
Welikada prison at 10.30 pm last night under an escort
provided by the military police, the private channel MTV
reported.

Fonseka-led Democratic National Alliance (DNA) today
ruled out any question of the incarcerated former army chief
appealing to Rajapaksa on his sentence.

"The ruling was undemocratic, unjustified and illegal
and why should Sarath Fonseka appeal (to the President),"
Somawansa Amarasinghe, the leader of the JVP, a constituent of
the DNA, told PTI.

Amarasinhe was responding to a media report that the
Lankan President, who is also the commander-in-chief of the
military, could re-evaluate the sentence in case Fonseka
appeals to him.

The JVP Supremo said they know if Fonseka appeals, "it
means he is accepting the charges".

The Island newspaper quoted top Defence Secretary
Gotabhaya Rajapakse, who is also the president`s younger
brother, as saying Fonseka should directly make a plea to the
President.

Vijitha Herath, General Secretary of DNA and an
Opposition lawmaker, termed the sentence as a "degrading form
of revenge".

Addressing a gathering, he appealed to Sri Lankans "to
stand against this injustice".

"We hope to challenge it. We request all Sri Lankans
here and abroad to stand against this injustice. In your
hearts and conscience, Fonseka has done no wrong," said
Herath.

He underlined that Fonseka was innocent and would not
ask for pardon.

The former Army Commander will not bend down and ask
for forgiveness from the President as he is innocent and this
is nothing but a revengeful act against Fonseka, Herath told
Daily Mirror online.

Fonseka, who successfully led the Sri Lankan military
in the war against the LTTE which ended in May last year, was
charged with favouring a company headed by his son-in-law, who
is also an accused in a separate case filed in the high court
on the same charges. Fonseka`s wife Anoma said her family was not
discouraged by this act of "revenge" as it was noble to stand
up and die rather than genuflect.

"Neither I nor my daughters are discouraged by this.

It is more noble to stand up and die rather that having to
live on bended knees," Anoma said.

Fonseka, was was hailed as a hero after he led the
ammy in crushing the LTTE, was arrested two weeks after his
defeat in the January 26 presidential elections and has since
remained in military custody at the Naval headquarters.

He was first stripped off his rank and medals by the
first court martial which found him guilty of dabbling in
politics while in uniform, before the second court martial
convicted him of corruption.

A group of people, including his wife and others also
arrived at the Welikada prison to see him.

De Silva said there were no special cells at the
prison, said the war hero will be taken in as a `normal
inmate`.

"From this point on, he becomes a prisoner. After we
receive a copy of the President`s endorsement of the court
martial from the Army headquarters or defence officials, he
will be accepted as a normal inmate. There are no special
cells within the prison," De Silva was quoted as saying.

Fonseka has said claimed the government aims to take
revenge for his attempt to unseat the president and wants to
keep him away from parliament, which is dominated by Rajapakse
supporters.

PTI

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