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Court martial looms for S.Lanka’s defeated candidate: report

[AFP, Sunday, 7 February 2010 10:07 No Comment]

Sri Lanka's defeated opposition presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka Defeated Sri Lankan presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka could be hauled before a court martial to answer charges of plotting a coup to topple the government, a press report said Sunday.

The government has sought legal advice on using a military court to fast-track proceedings against Fonseka, who challenged President Mahinda Rajapakse in the January 26 vote, the Sunday Times said.

"A military court will try retired general Sarath Fonseka on several charges of conspiracy," it said.

There was no immediate comment from Fonseka, who has already accused the government of planning to arrest or assassinate him after he fell out with Rajapakse and resigned in November.

Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said he was unaware of plans to bring Fonseka before a court martial, but added that a senior defence official had publicly spoken of the possibility.

Fonseka led troops to a crushing victory over Tamil Tiger rebels in May last year, ending a decades-long separatist campaign by the guerrillas.

However, he and Rajapakse were at loggerheads over sharing credit for the spectacular military success and then went head to head at the ballot box last month.

Fonseka, who was routed by Rajapakse, has vowed to challenge Rajapakse’s election at the Supreme Court.

Earlier this month, Rajapakse sacked a dozen senior military officers whom the defence ministry said were a "direct threat to national security."

Security forces kept Fonseka under siege while election results were being announced the day after the election, and 36 retired officers working at Fonseka’s offices were later arrested by police.

Fonseka said the government targeted his office to prevent his party from collecting evidence to mount the legal challenge to Rajapakse’s re-election.

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