Sri Lanka arrests former military commander General Fonseka
Mon, Feb 8, 2010, 04:32 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.
Feb 08, Colombo: Sri Lankan military police arrested the former military chief and defeated presidential candidate General Sarath Fonseka Monday evening at his office for committing military offences.
"General Fonseka has been arrested on charges of committing military offences during his time in the Army," the newly appointed military spokesman Major General Prasad Samarasinghe said in an official statement to the Government Media Unit. He did not elaborate on the specific offences.
Director General of the Media Centre for National Security, Lakshman Hulugalle, said Fonseka would face charges in a military court of conspiracy against the government.
General Fonseka left his position in the Army as the Chief of Defence Staff in last November to contest the incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the last month's presidential elections.
He lost the race to President Rajapaksa by a clear margin of 18 percent but refused to concede the defeat accusing the government of vote rigging and promising to fight the results in the courts. Fonseka was planiing to contest the parliamentary elections in April.
Denying a Sunday Time news report that said the former military chief is to be hauled before a military court, the military said yesterday that the opposition presidential candidate was under no threat of an arrest. What changed the military's stand is not known yet.
The government has accused General Fonseka of plotting to assassinate the President and overthrow the government by a coup. The government has arrested over 50 of his loyal retired military officers on planning the coup. General Fonseka denies all government's accusations against him.
However, a BBC report said earlier in the day the General had threatened to divulge the military secrets in response to alleged war crimes against the Sri Lankan military during the final phase of the war against the LTTE.
"I am definitely going to reveal what I know, what I was told and what I heard. Anyone who has committed war crimes should definitely be brought into the courts," BBC quoted General Fonseka.
Early in his presidential campaign in an interview to a Sunday weekly, the opposition candidate accused the Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa of ordering the Army's 58 Division leader to kill the senior LTTE cadres who were attempting to surrender with white flags.
He later retracted the statement saying the paper misquoted him but the government and the media said the retired commander betrayed the nations and the damage to the country and the military had been done by the General's statement for political gain.
Today's arrest comes in the wake of the departure of a high-level delegation comprising Human Right Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe and the Attorney General Mohan Peiris to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva to meet the Commissioner Ms. Navaneetam Pillai to defend Fonseka's charges.