Fonseka skips court martial proceedings for Parl session

Lanka`s detained ex-Army Chief and opposition MP Fonseka skipped proceedings of court martial trying him on charges of indulging in illegal defence deals.

Updated: May 04, 2010, 19:27 PM IST

Colombo: Sri Lanka`s detained ex-Army Chief
and opposition MP Sarath Fonseka on Tuesday skipped proceedings of
a court martial trying him on charges of indulging in illegal
defence deals as he chose to attend the Parliament session,
prompting the military court to seek an explanation from him.

Fonseka, 59, did not appear before the court martial
panel as he was in Parliament which was debating the emergency

The military court asked Fonseka to explain his absence
and why he did not seek its permission for attending the
ongoing session of Parliament. The hearing was subsequently
postponed for tomorrow.

According to the counsel for Fonseka, the permission was
being sought for the purpose through a letter to Army Chief
Jagath Jayasuriya, who said this matter should be referred to
the court martial.

Since the court martial does not have a registered office
or any facility for the same and is present only on the day of
the hearing, it was told by Fonseka`s counsel that it was not
possible for the former army commander to seek approval
directly, sources said.

"Fonseka could have met them (the court martial team)
only on the day of the hearing and that way he could not have
attended today`s Parliament proceedings," the sources said.

Military spokesman Prasad Samarasinghe separately said
the court martial will now meet tomorrow.

Fonseka, who heads the seven-member opposition Democratic
National Alliance (DNA), was elected from the Colombo district
in the April 8 Parliamentary elections.

Prior to today`s Parliament session, the party leaders
discussed the issue of Fonseka`s presence in the House and
referred the matter to Speaker.

Fonseka`s counsel has maintained that the retired General
would not be able to attend the court martial proceedings
tomorrow as well due to the Parliamentary debate.

"Parliamentary proceedings take precedence over the court
martial hearing," sources said.

They said an oral permission was sought for Fonseka`s
absence from the court martial proceedings tomorrow bu his
lawyers, who were told that a formal letter was required.

Fonseka was arrested by the military police on February
8, 2010 and is being detained at the Naval headquarters here.

Sri Lanka`s court of appeal yesterday suspended another
court martial trying Fonseka for allegedly indulging in
politics while in uniform until May 21 so that a decision
could be made on the validity of the legal proceedings against
the detained former Army Chief.