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Fonseka to be tried by military court

[Express Buzz, Monday, 8 February 2010 09:08 No Comment]

Gen.Sarath Fonseka , former Sri Lankan Army Commander and the defeated opposition candidate in the January 26 Presidential election , will be tried by a military court for indulging in several conspiracies including a bid to stage a military coup and assassinate President Mahinda Rajapaksa, says The Sunday Times.  

The paper said that government had initially wanted to try Fonseka under ordinary laws, but later it was decided to haul him before a military court, after officials of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) consulted Attorney General Mohan Peiris.

A military court could award jail and death sentences.

Earlier in the week, Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa had told BBC’s Asia Today programme that action against Fonseka might be taken under the Army Act for divulging to the public certain sensitive information on the war which he had been privy to as a member of the National Security Council during his tenure as Army chief.

The Sunday Times said that apart from plotting to stage a coup and kill President Rajapaksa and Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Fonseka’s other actions while he was Army Commander had also come under adverse notice.

These included the arms supply contracts he had given to Hicorp International, a US-based company run by his son-in-law, Dinuna Tillekeratne.

Tillekaratne ,who had come to Sri Lanka for Fonseka’s Presidential election campaign, is to be questioned shortly. Reports said that he had in the meanwhile got himself warded in a hospital.

HOTEL SECURITY OFFICER HELD

Among those held in connection with the conspiracies is Ranjith Dayaratne, Security Manager at Colombo’s Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel. He had allegedly  switched  off the security cameras on the two floors occupied by Gen.Fonseka and his election staff in the final days of the Presidential election.

SEARCH FOR THREE JOURNALISTS

The Sunday Times further said that the police were on the lookout for three journalists who had been close to Gen.Fonseka when he was Army chief.

A retired Maj.General, who was Intelligence Advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a member of the Security Council, was also sent home.

Media reports said that evidence against the officers was “strong”.  

DISTRICT-WISE ORGANISATION OF CONSPIRACY

It is now learnt that a retired Maj.General, who had been Colonel Commandant of the Commando Regiment, who was arrested, had been recruiting ex-commandos and army deserters island-wide with the help of another retired Maj.General. The latter is absconding.

According to The Sunday Times the two Majors General had SLRs.72 million given by a retired Major, to recruit former army personnel. Some of the recruits had been paid SLRs.50,000 per month. Each district recruitment was administered by a retired army officer.

BOLSHEVIK-TYPE GROUPS IN GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS

Information Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa told the media, that Fonseka had organised Russian or Bolshevik type groups in state institutions to help stage a military coup.

FONSEKA BLAMED FOR ATTACKS ON MEDIA

Though Gen.Fonseka has vehemently denied any involvement in the murder, assault  and abduction of media personnel when he was Army chief, the government is probing his involvement.

A serving Brigadier, Duminda Keppetiwalana, is in custody in connection with the assassination of Lasantha Wickramatunge,editor of The Sunday Leader.The CID has identified some other participants in such activities including two Majors who had served in Fonseka’s intelligence unit when he was Army Commander.

RUSSIA GIVES $ 300 MILLION FOR ARMS

Meanwhile, Russia has announced a credit line of $ 300 million to help Sri Lanka refurbish or replace worn out military equipment which had been purchased from Russia.

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