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Sri Lanka braces for protests over Fonseka arrest

[AFP, Friday, 12 February 2010 09:00 No Comment]

Anti-riot squads in Sri Lanka have been put on alert Police in Colombo stepped up security Friday as the Supreme Court prepared to hear a suit challenging the arrest of Sri Lanka’s former army chief Sarath Fonseka.

Anti-riot squads were put on alert and barricades set up along the main access roads to the court, which witnessed violent clashes Wednesday between Fonseka supporters and ruling party activists.

"We have taken preventive measures to ensure that law and order is maintained," police spokesman Prashanth Jayakody said.

Fonseka was arrested on Monday, two weeks after being trounced in presidential elections by the incumbent, President Mahinda Rajapakse.

He faces a court martial on unspecified charges of conspiring against the government during the latter stages of his term as head of the army.

Fonseka’s wife had filed her petition challenging the legality of his arrest at the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Friday’s hearing is to determine whether the court should proceed with the case or not.

Despite an appeal from Fonseka for calm, there were more protests on Thursday over his arrest.

Rajapakse won the January 26 presidential poll with a comfortable 58 percent of the popular vote.

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