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Updated: February 9, 2010 23:14 IST

Outrage over Fonseka’s arrest

B. Muralidhar Reddy
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An emotional Anoma Fonseka, wife of the former Sri Lanka army chief, called a press conference on Tuesday to appeal for help in tracing her husband.
AP An emotional Anoma Fonseka, wife of the former Sri Lanka army chief, called a press conference on Tuesday to appeal for help in tracing her husband.

Outraged over the manner in which the military police have detained the former Sri Lankan Army chief and defeated opposition presidential candidate, General (retired) Sarath Fonseka, the opposition parties have urged the people to rise against the injustice.

The statement signed by leaders of the United National Party, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and several others said: “This government has shown itself to be incredibly insecure in its victory is what has become most apparent by the events following the election on January 26.

“In arresting General Fonseka, the government has no doubt greatly pleased the pro-LTTE supporters all over the world, by doing what the organisation failed to do in April 2006.”

It also urged service personnel to refrain from carrying out what were termed “illegal orders”, no matter who issued them.

However, the government defended the detention of the General on the ground that he had indulged in “treason”.

Military spokesperson and Cabinet Minister Keheliya Rambukwella claimed at a news conference here that the charges against General Fonseka were “serious enough” to warrant his arrest. As per the Minister, the General had committed the offence of mixing with political leaders while being a member of the Security Council, the highest body on national security.

“The gravity of his offences will flow from the summary of evidence collected against the former General,” he said.

He said the General was entitled to a lawyer and his family members had unhindered access to him. Full medical assistance as required by the detenu had been offered to him, he said.

As per a senior government official, a Military Board will decide on the basis of “the summary of evidence” whether court martial proceedings were to be initiated.

Earlier in the day, General Fonseka’s wife, Anoma Fonseka, at a news conference here appealed to the “mothers and daughters” of the country to stand by her and the democratic rights of the people.

Recounting the moments when her husband was picked up, Ms. Fonseka said in a choked voice that a junior military officer had come with “nearly 150 Army personnel” and “carried him by force”. She said her husband was “treated like an animal”.

Leaders of opposition parties Rauff Hakeem and Mano Ganesan, also present at the time of the arrest, said the General was treated in an “inhuman manner”. They said their bodyguards were also disarmed and they were asked to wait for 45 minutes before they could leave the election office premises.

A report posted on the Army website said General Fonseka was taken into military custody on charges of committing alleged fraudulent acts and military offences and had been provided with full security under detention.

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