Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sri Lanka postpones court-martial against Fonseka

By Bharatha Mallawarachi - Judges presiding over the court-martial of Sri Lanka's former army chief indefinitely postponed a hearing into one of two allegations against him Wednesday, a defense attorney said.

Sarath Fonseka, who led Sri Lanka to victory in its decades-long civil war but then fell out of favor after unsuccessfully challenging President Mahinda Rajapaksa's re-election bid, is already facing charges he dabbled in opposition politics before retiring from the military last year.

Reporters are barred from the court-martial, which started Tuesday, but defense attorney Nuwan Bopage said the panel of three army officers on the bench postponed Wednesday's hearing and will ask Rajapaksa whether a new panel should be asked to hear the second charge.

The officers did not give a reason for their decision, he said.

The army said in a statement that the court-martial would reconvene for the sake of transparency and maintaining "an unprejudiced nature."

Fonseka appeared before the court-martial Tuesday on accusations he prepared the groundwork for his January presidential campaign, which he lost badly, while still in military uniform. The charge to be heard Wednesday related to accusations Fonseka breached procedure in purchasing military hardware.

Fonseka has questioned the impartiality of the judges, saying the panel included two men whom Fonseka had disciplined when he ran the army.

The panel's third member was a close relative of the current army commander who initiated the court-martial, Fonseka's lawyers said.

Government officials have accused Fonseka of plotting to assassinate Rajapaksa and capture power, but those are not among the official charges.

Fonseka's supporters say the government is punishing the retired general for challenging Rajapaksa and is attempting to cow the opposition before April 8 parliamentary elections. Despite his detention, Fonseka is running for a parliamentary seat.

Rajapaksa and Fonseka were once strong allies in their campaign to defeat the Tamil Tiger rebels and end their 25-year armed campaign for an independent state.

After routing the rebels last May, the leaders quickly turned on each other.

© Associated Press

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Bookmark and Share

No comments:

Post a Comment

© 2009 - 2014 Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  © Blogger template 'Fly Away' by 2008

Back to TOP