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Sri Lankan military court convicts ex-army chief

[AP, Friday, 13 August 2010 12:17 No Comment]

A military court convicted former Sri Lankan army chief and presidential candidate Gen. Sarath Fonseka of involvement in politics while in service and stripped him of his rank and military honors, the government announced Friday.

The media office of the presidency said Fonseka’s sentence of a dishonorable discharge is subject to approval by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Fonseka led Sri Lanka’s army in its victory last year against ethnic Tamil rebels, ending a quarter-century civil war. He then ran unsuccessfully for the presidency against Rajapaksa and was subsequently arrested and put on military trial.

His supporters accuse Rajapaksa of harassing Fonseka for daring to challenge him.

Fonseka’s lawyer Rienzie Arsecularatne said that the case has been heard in his absence during a court vacation.

"I had informed the court martial that I will not be attending during the court vacation but they went ahead and fixed the court martial on the days I was not available," he said.

He said the ruling has not been communicated to him.

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