Hope has turned to despair in Lanka: Fonseka

Last Updated: Thursday, May 20, 2010 - 23:51

Colombo: The detained Sri Lankan former
Army chief, who led the victory over separatist Tamil Tiger
rebels one year ago, accused the government on Thursday of failing
to convert the military success into a new era of peace.

General Sarath Fonseka, who was a key aide of
President Mahinda Rajapakse in chalking out the defeat of the
LTTE rebels after three decades of bloody conflict, said the
fear of suicide bombers have been replaced by the fear of
political persecution.

"When I ended the war last year, there was hope in the
country of an economic revival and a sense of freedom,"
Fonseka said.

"Hope has now turned to despair," he told reporters in
Parliament complex.

Fonseka, who fell out with the President soon after
the military victory over the Tigers last May, is facing a
court martial trial for allegedly dabbling in politics while
in uniform and for corrupt defence procurements.

"Last year around this time I was the main national
hero, but today I am a political prisoner. It is a political
privilege," Fonseka, who is a member of parliament, quipped in
reply to a question.

The former top general quit the military before an
unsuccessful bid to unseat Rajapakse from the presidency in
the January 26 elections.

Fonseka backed growing demands from rights groups for
a war crimes probe into the final phase of fighting as he has
accused the government of suppressing political dissent.

"My position is that no war crimes were committed, but
if there are specific allegations they must be investigated,"
Fonseka said. "I will not protect anyone if they have carried
out illegal acts."

He also indicated that no orders were given by any top
official for killing senior LTTE leaders who wanted to
surrender.

In reply to a question, Fonseka said troops carried
out his orders and no orders in contravention to the norms was
given from the "top".

It may be recalled that earlier this year, Fonseka in
an interview with a Sunday Newspaper had charged Defence
Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and a senior military commander
of ordering the killing of surrendering senior LTTE cadres.

He had subsequently claimed that he was quoted out of
context by the newspaper.

Fonseka said though he was not in Sri Lanka during the
final phase of the ethnic war, he was, nevertheless, in full
control of the war situation.

The former top general said the powerful Defence
Secretary was also active during that phase.

He said when LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran’s body
was found in May last year, it was not decomposed. Prabhakaran
was probably hit by a machine gun," Fonseka said.

Last week, the Brussels-based International Crisis
Group said it had evidence that the Lankan military caused
thousands of civilian deaths by shelling, a charge
consistently denied by the government.

According to the UN, over 80,000 people were killed in
the ethnic conflict which ended last May with the defeat of
the Tamil Tiger rebels.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, May 20, 2010 - 23:51

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