Lankan court releases Fonseka’s men

In a setback to the Sri Lankan government, a court here has ordered the release of 14 supporters of defeated presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka picked up from his election office.

Updated: Feb 18, 2010, 16:20 PM IST

Colombo: In a setback to the Sri Lankan government, a court here has ordered the release of 14 supporters of defeated presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka picked up from his election office, after a top investigative agency conceded it had no evidence against them.
The 14 included some commissioned Army and Air Force officers who, after their arrest had been described by the government agencies as deserters who were plotting a coup.

Chief Magistrate Champa Janaki Rajaratne ordered the release of the men who were arrested on January 29 while they were at General Fonseka`s election office here.

They were under detention till they were produced in a court by the Criminal Investigation Department and subsequently released yesterday.

The CID told the court there was no evidence to justify their detention any longer and said they had no objection to them being discharged, media reports said.

Police said that since their statements had been recorded, the detention orders had been lifted and they were released by the court.

It said some others who had also been detained have also moved the court against their arrest. The magistrate told those released that if notice were issued against them, they should appear before the court.

The government has accused Fonseka of plotting a coup and says he could face a court-martial, although he has yet to be charged.

PTI