Hearing in fraud case against Rajapaksa begins

Ex-Army chief Fonseka has accused Rajapaksa of rigging presidential polls.

Colombo: A Sri Lankan court on Monday opened a hearing on charges of fraud against incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa by a former Army commander who ran against him in the last election.

Former Army chief General Sarath Fonseka, currently in military custody on charges of conspiracy, alleged that Rajapaksa rigged the January 06 Presidential Election.

The case was heard in the Supreme Court by a five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ashoka de Silva.

The suit alleges that Rajapaksa illegally directed public officials to campaign on his behalf.

Lawyers for the President submitted their objections, and the Court scheduled the next hearings for September 13-15.

Fonseka is seeking to have the election result declared void, and to be named president.

Rajapaksa was elected for a second term with 59 percent of the vote, while Fonseka polled only 40 percent.

Fonseka spearheaded the military campaign which defeated the Tamil rebels last year, but later fell out with Rajapaksa after he was demoted, and entered politics against the president.

Two weeks after the election he was arrested but was elected to parliament in April from custody. He has been allowed to attend parliament sessions pending his court martial.