Sri Lanka's Fonseka 'to face court-martial'

Sri Lanka's government said defeated presidential candidate General Fonseka would be court-martialled on charges of conspiring against the president.

Sri Lanka's Fonseka 'to face court-martial'

Sri Lanka's government on Tuesday said defeated presidential candidate General Sarath Fonseka would be court-martialled on charges of conspiring against the president.

Fonseka lost by an 18 percentage point margin to President Mahinda Rajapaksa in a Jan. 26 election, after which he accused his former commander-in-chief of vote-rigging, vowing to challenge the results in court and stand for parliament.

Sri Lanka troops arrested their former chief on Monday. The government said the general, who quit the army in November to enter the presidential race, would be tried for conspiring with opposition politicians while still serving.

Sri Lanka's Government Information Department on Tuesday said Fonseka's comments to reporters, quoted by the BBC, that he would testify in a war crimes probe proved his disloyalty to the troops he led to defeat the Tamil Tigers rebels and end a 25-year war.

"This report of BBC confirms beyond doubt that the retired general was hell-bent on betraying the gallant armed forces of Sri Lanka who save the nation from the most ruthless terrorist group in the world," the statement said.

"War crimes probe"

The general had stood side-by-side with Rajapaksa in May after the Tamil Tigers' defeat, but fell out later over what he said was false accusations of planning a coup and a promotion he complained had sidelined him by stripping his powers.

He then became the common candidate of several weakened opposition parties with divergent ideologies, who united solely for the purpose of beating Rajapaksa. Some of the parties had earlier criticised him sharply for his conduct of the war.

The campaign turned bitter and personal, with Fonseka and Rajapaksa trading allegations of corruption and misconduct.

Fourteen senior army officers were also forced to retire for openly supporting him, and 40 were transferred after the poll.

Thousands of civilians were killed in the final months of the war as the army, led by Fonseka, bore down on the Tigers. The United Nations, United States and rights groups have urged some kind of accountability for possible war crimes.

Sri Lanka has adamantly refused an external probe, although the president has appointed a commission to look at potential charges. Presidential commissions in Sri Lanka have a long history of taking little action, rights groups say.

Amnesty International late on Monday said Fonseka's comments showed the need for an independent probe, and said the general himself should be investigated since he was the commander in charge during the war.


Reuters

Last Mod: 09 Şubat 2010, 15:25
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