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Sri Lanka monks call for release of arrested Fonseka

[BBC, Sunday, 14 February 2010 17:27 No Comment]

08699938-1 Sri Lanka’s Buddhist clergy have called for the release from custody of former army chief and defeated presidential candidate Gen Sarath Fonseka.

In a rare political move, leading monks told President Mahinda Rajapaksa they did not support the arrest of a man who risked his life to serve the country.

Gen Fonseka was credited with the battlefield defeat of the rebel Tamil Tigers after a decades-long civil war.

He was arrested last week on charges of plotting to overthrow the government.

He has denied the charges.

The leading monks of Sri Lanka’s main Buddhist sects made their appeal to the president in a joint letter.

"We insist that we cannot approve the arrest of the former army commander Gen Sarath Fonseka," the letter said.

"We urge you to use your presidential powers to acquit from all charges, release and provide security to Gen Fonseka and the group who served the motherland risking their lives to safeguard the sovereignty of the motherland and save peoples lives."

The monks are well respected by both politicians and civilians in the mainly-Buddhist nation.

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