Sri Lankan opposition demands release of ex-army chief

Last Updated: Wed, Feb 09, 2011 15:00 hrs

Colombo, Feb 9 (DPA) Sri Lanka's main opposition party Wednesday staged a protest in the capital demanding the release of former army commander General Sarath Fonseka.

More than 2,000 supporters of the United National Party (UNP) held a march and rally outside the high-security prison, a day after the first anniversary of the arrest of Fonseka on charges of conspiracy.

'We want the government to ensure justice and release Fonseka, who was once seen as a hero,' opposition UNP lawmaker Dayasiri Jayasekara said.

On Tuesday the Marxists, another opposition party, held a similar protest.

Fonseka is currently serving a 30-month jail sentence for favouring a company owned by his son-in-law to supply equipment to the army.

He led the military to victory over the separatist rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in May 2009, but later fell out with President Rajapaksa, mounting an unsuccessful challenge for the presidency in the January 2010 election.

Fonseka has several other cases pending against him in civil courts.

Among others, he is accused of falsely stating that Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa - the president's younger brother - gave the order to kill surrendering rebels in the final stages of the conflict.

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