Sri Lanka

Defeated presidential candidate to face court martial

A newspaper details Fonseca's arrest
A newspaper details Fonseca's arrest (Photo: Reuters)

Former army chief Sarath Fonseka is to be court martialled on alleged charges of fraudulent acts and other military offences. The move comes a day after he was dramatically arrested by armed troops at the offices of the opposition parties that had supported his candidacy for president in last month's election.

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Hours before he was dragged away by troops, Fonseka had said he would face any international probe into alleged war crimes committed by Sri Lankan troops last year during the final stages of the offensive against Tamil Tiger rebels.

The government has resisted international calls for an investigation into charges that a senior defence official ordered the killing of surrendering rebel leaders.

President Mahinda Rajapakse's government has also accused Fonseka of plotting to overthrow the president. There are also concerns over his willingness to testify before a war crimes probe.

Correspondent Amal Jayasinghe in Colombo that Fonseka's arrest shows the government is feeling insecure.

Correspondent Amal Jayasinghe, Colombo

"General Fonseka is mounting a legal challenge against the results of the election and he has one week to file action in the Supreme Court," he says. "So the opposition feel this is an attempt to prevent them from gathering evidence and information about possible vote fraud."

Fonseka has been moved to an undisclosed military location ahead of disciplinary proceedings.

In a tearful press briefing, his wife, Anoma, accused the government of treating her husband like an animal.

"They grabbed him and virtually carried him away." she said. "We always knew that the government will try to arrest my husband, but we never thought they would do it in such a disgusting manner."

Fonseka, the only four-star general in the army, resigned in November after falling out with the commander-in-chief Rajapakse, who he later challenged in January's presidential election.

Following his defeat, he accused the government of rigging the election and had vowed to challenge the result in the Supreme Court.

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