Fonseka`s court martial to resume after new Par inauguration
Last Updated: Tuesday, April 20, 2010, 18:59
Colombo: Detained Sri Lankan ex-army chief Sarath Fonseka's court martial on charges of indulging in illegal defence deals was on Tuesday adjourned until after the April 22 inauguration of new Parliament, where he may be allowed to take oath as an MP of his opposition DNA alliance.

After a brief hearing, the proceedings of the court martial were postponed to May 4, the army said.

Prior to its next hearing, the court martial is to receive written submissions from both defence and prosecution by April 30, it said

The written submissions are to be received by Rear Admiral W W J S Fernando who serves as Judge Advocate, the army said.

The three-member court martial panel, which is probing four charges against Fonseka regarding military procurements during his tenure under the section 'disgraceful conduct' in the Army Act, comprises Major Generals Milinda Peiris, S W L Daulagala and M Hathurusinghe.

Fonseka is facing another court martial as well on charges of indulging in politics while in uniform.

Today's hearing came a day after President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that there was no obstacle for Fonseka, who heads the Marxists JVP-dominated opposition Democratic National Alliance (DNA), to take oath in new Parliament as a member, the 'Daily Mirror' reported.

The President made the remarks at his official residence during a meeting with main opposition UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, the newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying.

Wickremesinghe told Rajapaksa that Fonseka, who is now under army detention, should be given the opportunity to take oath, it said.

The President said that though Fonseka, who was arrested on February 8, would be allowed to go to Parliament on its opening day, he would have to remain in army custody till the ongoing inquiries against him were over, the report said.

Fonseka was among the five DNA candidates who emerged victorious in the April 8 Parliamentary polls, the first post-LTTE era general elections in the country in which Rajapaksa's ruling UPFA returned to power with 117 seats while Wickremesinghe's party secured 46 in the 225-member House.

Objecting to the court martial against Fonseka, the former top General's lawyer Rienzie Arsecularatne yesterday said the post of Army Commander should not be subjected to the Military Law. He argued that it was unlawful to try Fonseka before a court martial.

Fonseka had resigned as the Commander of Army on July 14, 2009 and a gazette notification was issued in this regard, the counsel said.

Later on July 15, Fonseka was appointed as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), a post which does not come under the Army Act.


First Published: Tuesday, April 20, 2010, 18:59

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