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out the defeat of the LTTE rebels after three decades of bloody conflict, said the fear of suicide bombers have been replaced by the fear of political persecution.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.


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

comments powered by Disqus