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Sri Lanka war hero braces for jail term

Last Updated: Thursday, August 19, 2010 - 21:22

Colombo: Sri Lanka`s former army chief
Sarath Fonseka said on Thursday he expects the government to put him
behind bars to end his political career after a court martial
convicted him.

Fonseka, who led troops to victory in the island`s
37-year ethnic conflict last year, said the government was
seeking revenge for his decision to stand against the
president at January polls.

He was arrested two weeks after President Mahinda
Rajapakse won re-election and he faces a plethora of charges
ranging from corruption to treason.
The first court martial, which heard charges that he
dabbled in politics while heading the military, found him
guilty last Friday and ordered the withdrawal of medals he had
earned during his 40-year military career.

The former four-star general quit the military in
November to become an opposition politician.

"They are going to put me in jail and I am prepared
for that," Fonseka told reporters in parliament after being
escorted by the military to attend assembly sessions.

He said he had no faith in the judiciary. However, he
would appeal to a civilian court against the ruling of the
first court martial, which he said had been illegally

The second military tribunal, which is hearing charges
that he engaged in corrupt military deals, is expected to hold
its next hearing on Saturday.

"The verdict is already written," Fonseka said. "I
know the psychology and the thinking of these people (in
power). There is no rule of law. If you are not a government
supporter, you can`t expect justice."
Friday`s ruling carried no prison term, but Fonseka
remains in custody.

He also faces civilian charges of employing army
deserters, as well as revealing state secrets -- offences that
carry a 20-year jail term.

Fonseka has angered the government by saying he would
willingly testify before any international war crimes
tribunal. Rajapakse has vowed to prevent any such probe.

The United Nations estimates that at least 7,000
ethnic Tamil civilians were killed in the final months of
fighting between government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels.


First Published: Thursday, August 19, 2010 - 21:22
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