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Sri Lanka: Former Army chief convicted in white flag case

November 18, 2011 13:10 IST

Former Sri Lankan army chief and presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka was on Friday convicted and sent to three year imprisonment after the high court found him guilty in the 'white flag' case.

Foneska is already in jail serving a 30-month sentence effective since October last year after he was found guilty by a military court for misconduct in the Army procurement procedures.

Fonseka was indicted in the High Court in July 2010 for saying in a 'Sunday Leader' interview that defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa had ordered the military commander Shavendra Silva to kill the members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam who wanted to surrender carrying white flags at the final battle which ended in May 2009.

The trial at bar was conducted over 57 days with 15 witnesses. Fonseka himself made a dock statement. The former Army chief credited for his leadership for ending the 30-year-old military campaign by the LTTE denied making the statement.

The statement was seen as damaging to his campaign against the incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa in the presidential election held in January 2010. Rajapaksa and Fonseka fell out after the former removed the latter from the position of the army chief to put him in charge of the joint operations command.

The relationship turned sour when Fonseka pitted himself against Rajapaksa backed by the joint opposition. The former Army chief was arrested almost immediately after Rajapaksa trounced him by over 60 per cent of the vote.

Fonseka was elected to Parliament from jail when he won a seat from the Colombo district in the parliamentary election held in April 2010.
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