A legal snag has held back the imminent release from jail of Sri Lanka's former Army Chief, Sarath Fonseka, who has been granted both a bail and a presidential pardon.

Presidential spokesman Bandula Jayasekera in a Twitter message said “not today”.

Sources from Fonseka's Democratic National Alliance (DNA) said an appeal filed by Fonseka over his three-year jail term has placed a legal impediment to President Mahinda Rajapaksa's anticipated executive order pardoning him.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the appeal on May 30. DNA sources said they may file a court motion next Monday to withdraw the appeal application.

Fonseka is serving the three-year jail term after being convicted by the High Court in what was termed the ‘white flag' case.

He was charged with causing public disaffection of the state through his statement that the senior defence establishment had ordered the killing of LTTE soldiers who came to the army with white flags during the final day of the military clashes in May 2009.

Expectations for Fonseka's release mounted when his wife Anoma said that Mr. Rajapaksa had expressed desire to release the former Army chief.

Mr. Rajapaksa ordered Fonseka's detention almost immediately after he had crushed the former Army chief in the presidential election of 2010.

Fonseka received bail on Friday in the case in which he was accused of harbouring military deserters.

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