Sri Lanka’s jailed ex-army chief Fonseka given new term
A court in Sri Lanka has jailed former army chief Sarath Fonseka for three years for implicating the government in war crimes.
The court ruled that he lent credence to allegations the defence secretary ordered Tamil Tigers to be killed as they tried to surrender in May 2009.
Fonseka rejected the verdict, telling the court was it politically motivated.
He is already serving 30 months after a court martial last year convicted him of irregularities in army procurements.
Sarath Fonseka led Sri Lanka’s military to victory against the Tamil Tigers in 2009.
But shortly afterwards he fell out with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, challenged him in a presidential election, lost and was arrested on a variety of charges.
On Friday the High Court in Colombo found him guilty on the charge of “spreading disaffection” – relating to a newspaper interview in which he apparently backed allegations that defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the president’s brother, ordered surrendering Tamil Tiger leaders to be shot in May 2009.
Fonseka says he was quoted out of context in the 13 December 2009 Sunday Leader article.
One of the three judges on the bench dissented from the verdict. The 60-year-old former general was cleared on two other counts.
He faces two more court cases, including one of harbouring army deserters. The next court case starts in January.
The BBC’s Charles Haviland in Colombo says the charge on which Sarath Fonseka was convicted on Friday is the most serious he has faced so far – he could have been jailed for up to 20 years.
The sentence will begin in mid-2012, after Fonseka has finished serving his current term. His lawyer told the BBC he would appeal against the verdict.
An emotional Fonseka told the courtroom the judgement was aimed at keeping him out of politics.
“I don’t accept this guilty verdict… This conviction happens under a dictatorship,” he told the court, AFP news agency reports.
Fonseka was bundled swiftly out of court – as he was led out by the back entrance to be driven away, a yelling mob attacked his van. Minutes earlier he had been garlanded by supporters.
“I know about my husband, what he has done for the country, and he didn’t do anything wrong. That is why they are going to fight against that decision,” his wife, Anoma, said.
There has been some support for the former army chief in Sri Lanka, with supporters staging demonstrations during earlier hearings.
He had been regarded as a war hero by many across the country and seen as instrumental in defeating the rebels after decades of conflict.
An ardent nationalist of the Sinhalese ethnic majority, his downfall came when he fell out with his ideological soul mate, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, shortly after the end of the war over who should claim credit for the victory.
Our correspondent says this court case, dubbed the “White Flag” case, points to the danger faced by anyone in Sri Lanka who dares accuse the government of war crimes.
The government has firmly denied committing them – it has rejected persistent calls for an independent war crimes inquiry.
BBC News Report / Pix by AP / Getty Images
Where is buddhism in sl, Loard buddha, where is ditta damma vedaniya karma, you taught us. How can people who trouble SF,can live like kings, when they will be punished .This man undergoing a lot of trouble and no legal protection due to prevailed jungle law in the country. All sinhalese are blind, that is why they cannot see comforts enjoyed by blood suckers like karuna, KP and pilliyaran. Did SF do anthing of this nature, they killed thousands of sinhalese, SIHALUNE, THOPE AS ANDADA
well said, true sri lankan .you are correct. Siahalune neth arrinna,
Fonseka has the potential of becoming Sri Lanka’s Nelson Mandela. I hope he preserves his energy to lead the Sinhala nation out of its morass, maybe, in two decades from now.
Fonseka does have the leadership capabilities; they need to be cared for and preserved in prison.
Following the imminenet partitioning of our emerald isle, Foseka shall be the leader of the pure Sinhala nation. he has the capability to over-run the the stolen lands under the partitioning and restore the Sinhala nation to its pristine glory.
SF played his cards wrong. His ego got the better of him. He imprisoned thousands of soldiers for defying his wicked ways. He is now paying the price for his crimes. He is an utter fool. He committed treason by plotting a coup d’tat. This case has still to be heard. In USA, punishment for treason is death sentence.
Guru, yours is the saying of day.! His leadership capabilities need to be taken care in prison.
Otherwise, even the hopper cook will have to face the inside terror again.
Buddhism & singhala people are there although some are away from buddhism. You can’t turn buddhism as you want to punish anyone. SF has got Dittadhamma vedaniya vipaka for his own misled acts. What to do with singhala nation or buddhism for SFs wrong & unwise behaviour..? He has to bear the results of his own mistakes. Others have nothing to do about that.!
In an eight sentenced synopsis of the topic, you have
presented the intelligent and the Patriotic readership
a logical analysis of the subject.SF has not led the ARMY
from the front. In fact when the rank and file ended
the war he was nowhere in the country. In USA At a
Buddhist temple ceremony he had the audacity to make
derogatory remarks about his Commander.
Three years in prison for treason is hardly sufficient
for the crime. However,the UPRIGHT man as he claims to
be,he went back on his statement and denied its
authenticity .I am sure the fine will not be paid ,for
him to enjoy first class medical attention and other
priviledged comforts at government expense for a further
period of six months.
AUJ., In another way that the 3 forces & police defeated ltte & SF was the co of army at that periode of time. If he intend that it can’t defeat ltte if he wasn’t there, that’s a condemnation of all forces.!
But we know that there was no leadership of SL in past 30yrs who dealt with ltte strait forwardly except MR.
Thanks for your rational comments. SF was about to retire when MR and GR made him Army Commander with the brief to totally radicate the LTTE. I must give him credit for this. But towards the end, his ego got the better of him. He gave himself sole credit for the defeat of the LTTE. It was the combined effort of the whole heroic Defence Forces under the political leadership of the Commander-in-Chief, MR and the leadership of GR.
SF fell under the influence of political bankrupts JVP who looked to him for a new breath of life. They boosted his ego. He met certain officials in USA who further influenced him to topple MR. Towards the end of the war, he was not around to finish the job. Instead, he was treating his whole family to a luxury holiday in China at State expense. Without authorisation, he placed orders for three shiploads of heavy armaments and other ordnances. Why? He had planned for a coup d’tat and for military rule of the country with US backing, who supported him financially. MR and GR guessed his plan and thwarted him by cancelling the 3 ship loads of ordnances. Plane load of ordnances from North Korea bound to SL was confiscated in Thailand, when it stopped for re-fuelling.
I am very happy for the country, for this brutal man had been stopped in his tracks from terrible bloodshed of leading politicians, intellectuals and celebrities of our country and military rule. He should actually be sentenced to death for High Treason, as in USA.
Imagination running riot dear Nicholas.
Thanks for sharing your weird dreams.
The Blue Brothers began planning for their family rule many decades ago. One thing they cannot stand is opposition. The official opposition with its wimpy leader offers no resistance to their dyanastic ambitions.
Based on the momentum of the war victory, SF challenged the dynsaty and the Blue Brothers reacted to this challenge from day 1.
It is not only SF who has been incarcerated; journalists who drew cartoons vaquished from the face of the earth.
The Blue Brothers are resorting to meanest of means to survive; they are openly reliant on shady characters and drug peddling for their survival.
When the larger society in Sri Lanka become aware of the vile machinations of the Blue Brothers, they will not have anyone to turn to for survival and peace. In the present leadership stage, the alternative to SF appears to be the Gunaratnam faction of the JVP which will lead to unthinkable anarchy and another couple of decades of bloodshed.
SF if given the opportunity will rule with an iron fist. Ho does have the capacity to lead the nation towards some form of peace and pehaps prosperity. But as you will agree, ruling a coutry is different to managing and leading an Army. SF’s rule will perhaps lead society towards peace but the means may not not be all that compatible with social norms.
I wouldn’t write SF off as you do.
In Burma and other countries where military juntas ruled, the countries have failed. SF has a track record of being a brutal man, proven by the soldiers who suffered under him. He was also proven to be a corrupt individual. I am glad he will never be allowed to lead the nation. In USA, such men are usually sentenced to death for treason. MR is too leanient.
You said it very well (it is almost a cat out of the sack), “SF if given the opportunity will rule with an iron fist”.
So, it looks like you admire SF’s ability to rule the country with an “iron fist”, and you like it. Tell me then, what is the difference if “Blue Brothers” or “Green Brothers” or “Pink Brothers” rule the country the same way, i.e. “with an iron fist”? What is your problem then? What is your problem if MR rules the country with an iron fist?
Does it tell me that you are not a person of principle but a person of prejudice?
The iron fist of the Blue Brothers is supported by drug barons, IRC’s and the like.
The iron fist of SF is likely to be supported by the Forces and perhaps the deserters.
The iron fist of the rebel faction of the JVP will be supported by the gun.
The wimpy Green man has lost all his teeth.
Dear Sri Lankan citizens, you do have a choice between the four!
So stop blaming the Tamil Diaspora for the ills befalling the nation and learn to look after yourselves in the first instance.
Adambarakara rulares are waiting ppl to knees to them
The fact of the matter is, that in the whole world there is no ruler today who is not corrupt.
USA is the most imperial and corrupt nation, morally de-generate, who wants to dominate the world and exploit weak nations by its sheer military strength. If a weak nation fails to play ball with USA, God help it! Libya is a prime example. But USA dares not ride rough-shod China and Russia. Hence, SL need to have defence arrangements with these two superpowers against USA, imperial West and NATO.
Though MR has his faults, as a human being, he is the best ruler we have had for decades. So, let’s support him and criticise him when he is at fault, in order he may correct himself to serve the nation selflessly we hope, since we have no effective political opposition to correct the government when it goes astray, as in the case of Bharatha killing.
What is important is that we forge a ONE NATION ONE COUNTRY, to face future problems together, to gain economic victory and prosper together as ONE NATION.
Our enemies are many, political enemies both within the country and outside. We have to face world economic recession and natural diasters together, in a spirit of one big family helping one another. Mahinda Chintanaya Idiri Dekma, when fully implemented, should see us through to economic victory and prosperity for all with better health, education, employment, housing, food, living conditions, environment etc.
Rather than knocking the MR government let us support it and correct it when necessary for our common good.