Sri Lanka's war hero Sarath Fonseka walked free from prison on Monday on a presidential pardon after spending two years behind bars for crossing swords with the powerful president and dabbling into politics.
The former army chief, who went on from being a war hero to a presidential challenger to a convict in a short span of time, was greeted to tumultuous cheers from a large gathering of supporters as he stepped out of the prison premises.
The release came two days after President Mahinda Rajapaksa signed orders to release the 61-year-old from prison where he was serving a three year prison term in connection with what is known as the 'white flag' case.
"I pay tribute to people who supported me. I will devote my life for the people," Fonseka declared as he came out of the gates of the main Welikada prison.
Fonseka's journey to freedom began this morning when he was discharged from the private hospital where he was receiving treatment for a lung complication. He was escorted by prison officials to the supreme court where he went through the formalities of withdrawing two appeals he had filed over two previous convictions.
Rajapaksa on Saturday had signed papers of pardon for his former Army commander turned political rival and the withdrawal of Fonseka's appeals were mandatory to the presidential orders coming into effect.