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Fonseka court-martialled

world Updated: Aug 13, 2010 23:58 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times
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Former army chief and Presidential candidate, General Sarath Fonseka, was indicted by a military court on Friday for engaging in politics while in service and stripped of his rank and medals.

A three-member military court passed the judgment that includes a dishonourable discharge. The verdict is subject to President Mahinda Rajapaksa’ approval in his capacity as the commander-in-chief of the Sri Lankan armed forces.

“The guilty verdict was read out to General Fonseka at the court martial a short while ago,” a military officer told AFP.

The court also ruled that Fonseka — army chief during the last nearly four years of the civil war — be “cashiered,” which means he will be stripped of his rank, medals and decorations won during his 40-year-long span in the army. In 2006, he survived a Tiger suicide attack in which nine others were killed.

Fonseka (59), who became chief of defence and the country’s first four star general in 2009, resigned in November citing differences with Rajapaksa. The former general was arrested on February 8. He then became a parliamentarian in April from custody after winning a seat from the Democratic National Alliance (DNA).

DNA MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake said the party doesn’t accept the verdict, as only prosecution lawyers were present at the hearing. Fonseka has the right to appeal the verdict in a civilian court.