[QODLink]
Central & South Asia
Fonseka set for Sri Lanka tribunal
Supporters call for nationwide protests as former general faces courts martial.
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2010 05:25 GMT
Fonseka supporters have called for nationwide protests demanding his release [Reuters]

Sri Lanka's former army chief and opposition leader, Sarath Fonseka, is set to face a military tribunal on Tuesday, although it is unclear whether he will attend the proceedings in person.

Fonseka was arrested on February 8 accused of plotting a coup two weeks after losing the presidential election to Mahinda Rajapaksa.

He will to face two separate courts martial on charges that he engaged in politics while still head of the army and that he violated military procurement procedures.

If convicted he could reportedly face up to five years in jail.

His supporters say the charges are politically motivated and an attempt to prevent him from standing in next month's parliamentary polls.

They have called for nationwide protests demanding his release.

Reporters will not be allowed access to the courts martial proceedings, being held in the headquarters of the Sri Lankan navy, where Fonseka is curently being detained.

Unconstitutional

On Monday, Sri Lanka's former chief justice accused the government of acting unconstitutionally by prosecuting Fonseka behind closed doors using military law, rather than using the normal legal system which allows open hearings.

"The arrest detention of General Sarath Fonseka is contrary to articles 13-1 and 13-2 of the constitution, the code of Criminal Procedure, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Universal Declaration of Human Rights," Sarath Silva told reporters in Colombo.

in depth
  Profile: Sarath Fonseka
  Profile: Mahinda Rajapaksa
  Rajapaksa's minority report
  Sri Lanka opposition cries foul
  Video: Sri Lanka votes in Rajapaksa

"It is also contrary to the Army Act and the Chief of Defence Staff Act."

Officials in Rajapaksa's government have accused Fonseka of plotting a coup and the assassination the president, although those accusations will not form part of the court martial.

Former close allies, Rajapaksa once referred to Fonseka as a "national hero" for his role in leading the Sri Lankan military in its final victory over Tamil Tiger rebels.

The defeat of the Tigers in May last year brought an end to more than two decades of bloody civil war.

But the two men fell out shortly after over who should take credit for the victory.

Fonseka has refused to attend the preliminary hearings for the courts martial and reports say he will also stay away once the case begins on Tuesday.

However officials at his Democratic National Alliance party said that he would be represented by a team of lawyers.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
Part of the joint accord aimed at ending the political impasse establishes an independent National Election Commission.
Rights groups say the US prosecution of terrorism cases targets Muslims and are fraught with abuses.
Local painters forgo experimentation to cater to growing number of foreign buyers.
Cyprus is a tax haven and has long attracted wealthy Russians, but it could become a European energy hub.
Palestinians in Gaza have been shocked by the scale of Israeli destruction, as long-term truce efforts continue.
join our mailing list