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Updated: May 25, 2010 22:37 IST

Plea to release Fonseka

B. Muralidhar Reddy
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General (retired) Sarath Fonseka.
AFP General (retired) Sarath Fonseka.

Parliamentarians of the main opposition parties in Sri Lanka have petitioned to President Mahinda Rajapaksa seeking immediate release of the former Army Chief, Sarath Fonseka, from military detention.

A petition signed by 50 MPs of the main opposition party United National Party (UNP) and Democratic Alliance (DNA) including opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has contended that the retired General is being held illegally.

General (retired) Fonseka, who unsuccessfully contested as the common opposition consensus candidate in the January presidential election against Mr. Rajapaksa, has been under detention since February on charges of conspiring to destabilise the government and stage a coup. He is being tried by two separate courts martial.

At a media conference here, DNA General Secretary Vijitha Herath said the General had been detained in military custody in an inhumane manner and there was no justification for his detention.

In a related development, the General filed a writ application challenging the second court martial against him on the ground that he was not subjected to Military Law and could not be Court Martialled.

He had challenged the first court martial as well. However, the government has contested the petition and asserted that as one who voluntarily retired as Chief of Defence Staff he was very much subject to military law.

The latest petition of General Fonseka said almost all the members of both the Courts Martial had worked under his command and the arrest and detention were motivated by personal animosity and was in breach of the Army Act.

Meanwhile, the second Court Martial probing into charges related to alleged violation of military procurement procedures when General Fonseka was the Army Chief resumed its sittings on Monday.

Defence Counsel as well as prosecutors made their submissions to the tribunal and the next hearing will take place on 3rd June.

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