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Rediff.com  » News » Lanka ex-army chief begins 30-month prison term

Lanka ex-army chief begins 30-month prison term

October 01, 2010 15:35 IST

Sri Lanka's former army chief Sarath Fonseka has been moved to prison to serve out his 30-month sentence ratified by president Mahinda Rajapaksa, even as the opposition termed his incarceration as a 'degrading form of revenge'.

Fonseka was court-martialled on charges of corruption in defence deals and subsequently transferred to the prison from his detention centre at the naval headquarters. Prisons Commissioner Major General V R De Silva said that the former Army Commander was brought to the Welikada prison at 10.30 pm on Thursday escorted by the military police. Fonseka's wife Anoma said her family was not discouraged by this act of 'revenge' as it was noble to stand up and die rather than genuflect.

"Neither I nor my daughters are discouraged. It is more noble to stand up and die rather that live on bended knees," Anoma said.

She said her husband had tirelessly worked to eradicate 30 years of terrorism from the country, and he had been gifted with rigorous imprisonment of 30 months.

"I think the entire world knows that this was merely revenge. Therefore I wish to invite the loving people. We won't stop this journey here. Even if the General is imprisoned, we will stand up for him," she added.

Opposition DNA lawmaker Vijitha Herath termed the sentence for the former army chief as a 'degrading form of revenge'.

Fonseka was arrested two weeks after his defeat in the January 26 presidential elections and has since remained in military custody at the Naval headquarters. He was first stripped off his rank and medals by the first court-martial, which found him guilty of dabbling in politics, while in uniform. The second court-martial convicted him of corruption.

Prisons Commissioner Major General V R De Silva said, "From this point on, he becomes a prisoner. After we receive a copy of the President's endorsement of the court-martial from the army headquarters or defence officials, he will be accepted as a normal inmate. There are no special cells within the prison."

De Silva, however, added that if the court asks for special security, he would be placed in a separate cell.

Addressing a gathering, opposition Member of Parliament Vijitha Herath exhorted Sri Lankans "to stand up against this injustice", while promising all possible legal action would be taken against the decision.

"In your hearts and conscience, Sarath Fonseka has done no wrong. Therefore we request you to come forward to do whatever you can so that justice is served on behalf of Sarath Fonseka, who provided leadership for the war," said Herath.

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