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Fonseka reading Parliamentary book in prison

It sounds a little bookish for a hardened army man but now that former army chief Sarath Fonseka is a fighting politician, he is busy sharpening his new political powers in custody. Sutirtho Patranobis reports.

world Updated: Jul 15, 2010 01:11 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

It sounds a little bookish for a hardened army man but now that former army chief Sarath Fonseka is a fighting politician, he is busy sharpening his new political powers in custody.

And one good way of doing that for a new MP — Fonseka was elected to Parliament in April — is to pick up the latest edition of the Erskine May Parliamentary Practice, an influential work on parliamentary traditions written in 1844 by British constitutional expert, Thomas Erskine May.

"It’s the most important book (on parliament). A friend bought the 2004 edition for something like 250 pounds and sent it to me. The Parliament library doesn’t even have the new edition," Fonseka told HT.

Arrested on February 8 on conspiracy charges, Fonseka has spent over 150 days in custody. But last week, he looked remarkably fresh in his starch-white national attire as he was brought to Parliament to attend the Budget session.

Not very remarkably though, Fonseka was bitter about the way he was being treated.

"I live in a 10 feet by 10 feet room. They don’t allow physical exercise. There is no television. The newspapers given are government-run ones. Besides the book (Erskine May), they only allow me to take back papers related to Parliamentary work. I am a political prisoner."

His wife, Anoma, meets him twice everyday with hot-cases of homemade food.

Fonseka is detained in the Navy quarters but his custody is now under the Prison’s Department. “The Department has stopped me from calling my daughters in the US. I have appealed to the court. (On Monday, a Colombo court rejected the request saying it wasn’t a facility provided to a suspect under remand.)