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Fonseka could face a five-year jail term: Def Secretary

world Updated: Feb 11, 2010 22:56 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times
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The political turmoil in Sri Lanka is turning into a war of claims between two men; arrested former army chief Sarath Fonseka and defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

On Thursday, the defence secretary, also President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s younger brother, claimed that Fonseka had planned to impose military rule in Sri Lanka and could face a five-year jail term for treason.

In a related development, Fonseka’s wife, Anoma Fonseka, has indicated that she might join politics and fight the upcoming general election if the need arose.

``I am busy with my home, my two daughters (who are in the US) and running the house. But I might. I don’t like it (politics) but (I would join) to keep his name,’’ Anoma told HT.

It was announced Wednesday that Parliamentary elections would be held in April. But after his arrest, it is unsure whether Fonseka would be able to contest it. ``I am not afraid to do it,’’ Anoma said.

The defence secretary, meanwhile, claimed that Fonseka was indeed planning a coup and would be punished for doing so.

“The court martial will begin immediately after the assembling of the summary of evidence is done. I don’t know how long it will take because that depends on lawyers. But we want to finish it soon; in less than six months maybe. He can be put in jail for as long as five years,” Rajapaksa told the Strait Times newspaper.

Rajapaksa added: “he was planning military rule... He was completely trying to isolate the politics and take the country on a different path... In his very last stages as army commander he began bringing his people into Colombo and his regiment, positioning his senior regiment people all over... All these things were looking like a military coup.”

The defence secretary said Fonseka was linked to the January 2009 murder of newspaper editor Lasantha Wickrematunge.

“We have a clue whom he has used (in the killing). We are very convinced. In fact, I know for sure. The truth will come out very soon,’’ he said.

Fonseka denied these charges through his wife, Anoma Fonsek, who is allowed to meet him for 60 minutes everyday under the supervision of armed guards.

Anoma told HT that the charges of conspiracies and coups made by the government were baseless and that her husband was not involved in the murder of any journalist. ``They have arrested a brigadier who worked with my husband and trying to link him (Sarath Fonseka) to the murder through the brigadier,’’ she said.

Anoma said the general had conveyed that people and troops should not be provoked by his arrest, adding that he would not allow his own spirit to be broken.