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‘No democracy’ in S.Lanka, says Fonseka supporter

[AFP, Tuesday, 16 March 2010 09:32 No Comment]

fdfdg Sri Lanka’s former chief justice slammed the arrest of ex-army chief and opposition leader Sarath Fonseka on Monday on the eve of his court martial, saying there was "no democracy" in the country.

Retired chief justice Sarath Silva criticised the treatment of Fonseka, who challenged President Mahinda Rajapakse at January elections, as hundreds of supporters of the ex-army boss demonstrated in Colombo.

"There is no democracy since there is no room for dissent," Silva told reporters. "There is no freedom of expression. The arrest and detention of General Sarath Fonseka is against the constitution."

He said that the government was not using civilian law as that "would give Fonseka recourse to the court system to seek redress."

Silva, who retired as the head of the Supreme Court last June, supported Fonseka’s bid for the presidency after accusing Rajapakse of failing to uphold the constitution.

Fonseka and the president were allies in the crushing of Tamil Tiger rebels last May, which ended their 37-year separatist struggle that left up to 100,000 people dead according to a UN estimate.

Ahead of Fonseka’s court martial, his Democratic National Alliance (DNA) party has said he will not cooperate with the closed-door proceedings at naval headquarters in the capital.

The demonstrations in Colombo were the latest in a string of protests against Fonseka’s arrest and court martial.

The military has accused Fonseka of engaging in politics while in uniform and violating military procurement laws.

His party says the court martial is aimed at stopping the 59-year-old from campaigning in parliamentary elections set for April 8.

Rights groups and other critics have accused the president of cracking down on the opposition and dissent since he defeated Fonseka.

Fonseka has challenged his arrest in the Supreme Court, which has fixed a hearing for April 26.

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