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Sri Lanka

Army chief Fonseka appears before court martial

Reuters
1 min

Sri Lanka's former army chief Sarath Fonseka has appeared in the dock at a court martial for the first time since winning a parliamentary seat during elections this month. He faces two sets of charges: corrupt military procurements and engaging in politics while in uniform.

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The court martial, which is being conducted behind closed doors at the tightly-guarded naval headquarters, was adjourned after unspecified legal arguments, a military official told AFP.

"He was at the hearing and the court adjourned till tomorrow (Tuesday) after objections raised by his lawyers," the official said.

Fonseka denies all allegations against him, arguing they are part of a political vendetta.

The four-star general last year led the military to victory over the Tamil Tiger rebels, but later fell out with President Mahinda Rajapakse, and unsuccessfully tried to unseat him in a presidential election in January.

Fonseka's Democratic National Alliance, which has won five seats out of the 180 declared so far in the 225-member assembly, says the government is trying to prevent him from attending Thursday’s opening of the new parliament.

Rajapakse has been accused by political opponents and international human rights groups of suppressing dissent since his resounding re-election.

Fonseka entered politics after quitting the military in November, six months after the separatist Tamil rebels were finally crushed.

He was arrested 12 days after losing the presidential election to Rajapakse.

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