No four star general to try Fonseka: Lankan Govt

Last Updated: Sat, Mar 20, 2010 14:16 hrs

Colombo: Detained former Sri Lankan Army Chief Gen Sarath Fonseka has moved the country's apex court saying he can't be tried by a military court six months after his retirement.

His plea which came up before a Court of Appeal on Friday  could not be taken up as one of the judges of the Court withdrew from the panel citing personal reasons.

The Lankan war hero's new move to challenge his detention came even as the government made it clear that it did not have a four star general to head the court martial panel trying him of various charges.

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"General Fonseka is a four star general. We don't have an officer who is of the same rank or of a higher rank. There are provisions in the army act to appoint officers of a lower rank", senior cabinet minister Dullas Alahapperuma said.

Alahapperuma said even when Fonseka as the army commander initiated court martial proceedings against Major General Parakrama Pannipitiya in 2008, the situation was no different and the former army chief had to appoint officers who were junior to the accused officer.

Pannipitiya was the Sri Lanka Army's Eastern Commanding Officer responsible for capturing Thoppigala and other areas in 2007.

The Battle of Thoppigala was fought between Sri Lankan security forces and the LTTE for the control of the tiger dominated Thoppigala peak in Eastern Batticaloa.

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Pannipitiya faced charges including misuse of power and resources and disciplinary flaws.

Meanwhile, Fonseka, in a Writ application filed in the Court of Appeal, had complained that he could not be produced before a court martial under the Army Act in March 2010 as it was beyond six months after retirement.

He had retired from the Sri Lanka Army in July 2009,

Fonseka in the Habeas Corpus application filed on his behalf had requested the Court of Appeal to quash the decision of the Sri Lanka Army Authorities to court martial him.

Fonseka said that Majors General H L Weeratunga, A R L Wijetunga and D R A B Jayatillake, all of the Sri Lanka Army, had no jurisdiction to hear the court martial against him and make any decision on the issue.