Fonseka court martial stayed, Tamil ed pardoned | world | Hindustan Times
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Fonseka court martial stayed, Tamil ed pardoned

world Updated: May 03, 2010 19:11 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Tamil journalist JS Tissainayagam received an executive pardon while a court of appeal intervened to give partial reprieve to jailed former army chief Sarath Fonseka on Monday.

A Lankan court of appeal suspended a court martial proceeding against Fonseka. He got a reprieve when the court of appeal stayed court martial proceeding till a decision was made on the validity of the military legal proceedings initiated against him on March 16.

Fonseka – who won a seat in the April 8 general election from military custody - has been charged with engaging in politics while in service and tinkering with procurement procedures as army chief.

Fonseka, the country’s first four-star general, has maintained that all charges against him were part of political vendetta as he fought against President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the presidential election in January.

"The suspension of the first court martial is a big victory for General Fonseka," fellow legislator Tiran Alles said. "Now that we have this decision we will file another appeal to suspend the second court martial."

It is reported that the second court martial scheduled for Tuesday was cancelled because it clashed with a sitting of parliament, which Fonseka is likely to attend.

In the other development, Rajapaksa used his executive powers to pardon Tamil journalist Tissainayagam, who is accused of receiving funds from the Tamil Tigers and inciting communal feelings through his writings in 2006 and 2007.

Tissainayagam, founder and publisher of the North Eastern Monthly, was arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act in March 2008.

Tissainayagam was found guilty by the High Court of Colombo in August 2009, and sentenced to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment.

Subsequently, following a petition to the Court of Appeal by Tissainayagam, he was granted bail on January 11, 2010.

The pardon by President Rajapaksa was announced by the new Minister of External Affairs G L Peiris, when he assumed duties in his ministry today. Peiris said this pardon on World Press Freedom Day, showed the Government’s commitment to Media Freedom was not only in words but also in action.