|Fonseka, the former army chief, was earlier found guilty of involvement in politics while in uniform [Reuters]|
According to a Sri Lankan government official, Sri Lanka’s president has confirmed the 30-month jail term imposed on Sarath Fonseka, the former army chief, following his conviction by a military court.
Mahinda Rajapakse approved the two-and-a-half-year prison term upon return from New York on Wednesday where he addressed the UN General Assembly. The government official said: “The court martial has recommended up to three years in jail, but the president has decided he will be in prison for 30 months.”
Fonseka had been charged with four counts of bypassing military procedures in purchasing equipment and involving his son-in-law in the dealings, as the army commander during the civil war with Tamil Tiger separatists.
Foneska had earlier received another court martial ruling, which found him guilty of getting involved in politics while serving the country’s military. He was then stripped of his rank and pension as well as the medals he had earned during his 40-year army service.
Fonseka’s Democratic National Alliance (DNA) has said the military court process was seriously flawed and is appealing to a civilian court against the verdicts.
Fonseka fell out with the government and unsuccessfully tried to unseat Rajapakse in January presidential polls.
He was arrested two weeks after his defeat in the elections and has remained in military custody since. However, he won a seat in parliamentary elections in April allowing him to attend parliament.
He has said the government is seeking revenge for his decision to stand against Rajapakse and wants to keep him from speaking in parliament. He has already challenged Rajapakse’s re-election in the supreme court.
Fonseka also faces civilian charges of employing army deserters, as well as revealing state secrets, offences that carry a 20-year jail term.
The 37-year ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka ended in May last year when government forces led by Fonseka wiped out the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which had been fighting for a Tamil homeland.
The UN estimates that at least 7,000 ethnic Tamil civilians were killed in the final months of fighting between government troops and the LTTE.