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* Former Sri Lanka military chief appears before Court Martial
Tue, Mar 16, 2010, 07:45 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Mar 16, Colombo: Sri Lanka's former military chief and defeated presidential candidate General (retired) Sarath Fonseka appeared before the first of the two scheduled court martial proceedings held today at the Navy headquarters in Colombo.

The military spokesman, Major General Prasad Samarasinghe said the first court martial for the General's alleged involvement in political activities while in active service commenced today at 9:30 this morning.

"The first court martial appointed to try General Fonseka commenced today for participation in political work while in active service. Three separate charges under the above category according to the provisions of Army Act were heard today," the spokesman said.

General Fonseka appeared with his lawyer Rienzie Arsakularatna, P.C. and other lawyers before the panel of three judges while representatives of the Attorney General appeared for the prosecution.

The next hearing for the first set of charges has been recessed until April 6.

Tomorrow's court martial will be a separate one to hear the charges against Fonseka for offences related to military procurement while in active service, the Army spokesman said.

Both court martials are presided by the same board headed by Major General H.L. Weeratunga.

The General's lawyers however, are contesting the validity of the military court to hear the cases since he was a civilian when he was arrested.

The military says any military personnel can be arrested under the Military Act within six months after leaving the service.

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