Court martial of Sri Lanka's ex-army chief postponed

Last Updated: Tue, Apr 06, 2010 15:20 hrs

Colombo: Two separate court martial proceedings against Sri Lanka's former army chief Sarath Fonseka were postponed on Tuesday over objections by his lawyers, officials said.

General Fonseka, who ran as the opposition's candidate in Sri Lanka's January presidential elections, faces charges of 'conspiracy against the government' and engaging in 'fraudulent activities' while serving as the army commander. He has been in military custody since February 8.

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Fonseka's lawyers objected on the grounds that the court martial proceedings cannot be conducted as the matter has been challenged in a civil court - the Court of Appeal - and the matter is pending there.

The case dealing with the conspiracy charges has been put off until May 6 while the second case has been postponed until April 9.

The court martial proceedings took place two days ahead of the parliamentary elections which Fonseka is also contesting as part of an opposition alliance.

In the capital Colombo, protesters, including Fonseka's wife, Buddhist monks and activist of the Marxist JVP party demanded Fonseka's immediate release and called on the government to ensure that he receives proper medical attention while in custody.

Chief military spokesman Major General Prasad Samarasinghe denied allegations that Fonseka, is being held at the Navy headquarters, was not given adequate medical attention.

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Fonseka who was in charge of the military campaign against rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which ended with the Tigers' defeat last May and ended 26 years of civil war.

He later fell out with with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and unsuccessfully challenged him in the presidential elections.

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