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Ill Fonseka could be convicted next week

Detained former Sri Lankan army chief Sarath Fonseka may be convicted by early next week to prevent him from taking oath as a lawmaker, his party alleged today.

world Updated: Apr 16, 2010 18:30 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times

Detained former army chief and opposition leader Sarath Fonseka might be down with an attack of bronchitis but it could be the least of his worries.

Fonseka, who won a seat in the April 8 general election, could be convicted early next week to prevent him from entering Parliament, his party the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) said on Friday.

Depending on the level of conviction, it could also mean a jail term for him.

Fonseka has been military custody since February 8 less than two weeks after President Mahinda Rajapaksa defeated him in the January 26 Presidential election.

Subsequently, Fonseka was charged with engaging in politics and making irregular purchases while in service. He is currently facing court martial.

Fonseka, who led the military to victory over the Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009, denies all the charges.

Last week, he won a seat in the Parliamentary election from Colombo while fighting from military custody. His party had said that the retired general would attend Parliament which is to meet on April 22.

But he won’t be able to do so if convicted.

"We strongly suspect that a court martial called for Monday will convict him before Thursday and block him from attending parliament," spokesman for Fonseka's Democratic National Alliance, Anura Kumara Dissanayake, said.

"We maintain that the court martial against General Fonseka are illegal," Dissanayake said.

Dissanayake added that the military judges trying him in the court martial were disciplined by Fonseka when he was the army commander and would therefore be biased against him.

He added that the government is apprehensive that Fonseka could use the floor of Parliament to speak out against his detention and an alleged political vendetta against him.

Meanwhile, Fonseka’s wife, Anoma Fonseka, said doctors have diagnosed her husband has bronchitis and prescribed six types of medicines for him and also advised that he needs a clean and ventilated environment to recover. Fonseka is being held in inside the navy headquarters.

First Published: Apr 16, 2010 16:38 IST