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Sri Lanka court frees coup suspects linked to ex-army chief

world Updated: Feb 17, 2010 23:58 IST
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A court in Sri Lanka today freed 14 men held on suspicion of plotting a coup with opposition leader and ex-army chief Sarath Fonseka, an official said.

Colombo Magistrate Champa Rajaratne released the men, including 10 retired army officers, as police had failed to indict them since their arrest on charges of a conspiracy after Fonseka lost last month's presidential vote.

"She (the magistrate) ordered their immediate release because police failed to come up with any evidence although they were arrested on suspicion of planning a coup," a court official told AFP.

The men had been working at Fonseka's campaign office from where the ex-army chief was also arrested by the military on February 8.

The government has accused Fonseka of plotting a coup and says he faces being court-martialled, although he has yet to be charged.

Fonseka, who is being held at the naval headquarters in Colombo, petitioned the Supreme Court yesterday challenging incumbent Mahinda Rajapakse's re-election.

He alleged that vote-rigging, electoral malpractice and undue influence on the 14 million strong electorate robbed him of election victory, his lawyer Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said.