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Fonseka challenges impartiality of judges

[Express Buzz, Tuesday, 23 March 2010 11:07 No Comment]

Detained former Sri Lankan Army Commander Sarath Fonseka has challenged in the Court of Appeal, the impartiality of the present Army Commander Lt Gen Jagath Jayasuriya and the officers the latter had named as judges in the two courts martial in which he is being tried.

Fonseka’s lawyers said Jayasuriya was prejudiced against his client because, when the latter was Army Commander, he had instituted an inquiry against Jayasuriya.

As regards judge, Maj Gen H L Weeratunga, the lawyers said he was the brother-in-law and a confidante of Jayasuriya. As for judge D R A B Jayatilleka, the lawyers said that he could well be bearing a grudge against Fonseka because the General had removed him from a front line command position and posted him in a desk job dealing with logistics and supplies.

All the three judges on the panel had been reprimanded by Fonseka at various times for failure to perform, the lawyers pointed out.

It was also argued that all the judges were at least 10 years junior to Fonseka in service, and therefore, unfit to sit in judgment over him in the military court.

Fonseka has to appear before two courts martial appointed to go into two separate sets of cases. But the judges are the same.

In addition to the writ petition, the Court of Appeal is going to hear a Habeas Corpus petition, which questions the arrest of Fonseka by the military police and the subsequent trial by courts martial. It asked that he be produced before a civilian court.

The writ petition has been posted for hearing on March 25. A new bench with a replacement for Justice D S C Lekamwasam, who had opted out for personal reasons, will be hearing the petition.

COURT MARTIAL-II AWAITS RECONSTITUTION: The government is working to reconstitute court martial-II, which is to try Fonseka for flouting tender procedures and favouring his arms supplier son-in-law Danuna Tilakaratne.

The reason for asking for a reconstitution was that the judges of court martial I and II were the same and the judges and the defence lawyers felt that it might be better to have different judges for the sake of impartiality.

ANGRY FONSEKA BARKS INVECTIVES: Gen Sarath Fonseka has been allegedly using abusive language in his dealings with officers and soldiers who have to interact with him, The Sunday Times reports. If the orderlies did not understand what Fonseka said, he would scream: “Thamuselata Sinhala Therenne Neddo Oi? (Don’t you understand Sinhalese, men?)” He had used the choicest Sinhalese swear words when he abused Maj Gen Daya Ratnayake who had been collecting material for the Summary of Evidence on which the chargesheets were based. More recently, Fonseka had pulled up his wife, Anoma, for bringing his home cooked lunch late.

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