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Sri Lanka frees 1,400 prisoners on freedom day

[AFP, Saturday, 4 February 2012 11:51 No Comment]

Sri Lanka's President has granted an amnesty to 1,414 convicts serving light sentences (AFP/File, Ishara S. Kodikara)Sri Lanka's President has granted an amnesty to 1,414 convicts serving light sentences (AFP/File, Ishara S. Kodikara) Sri Lanka freed 1,414 convicts on Saturday to mark the country’s 64th anniversary of independence from Britain, a prisons official said.

President Mahinda Rajapakse granted an amnesty to convicts serving light sentences, but Sri Lanka’s most high-profile prisoner, former army chief and defeated presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka, was not among those released.

There had been intense local media speculation that Rajapakse may use the Independence anniversary to pardon his rival.

Fonseka was arrested two weeks after he lost presidential polls to Rajapakse in January 2010 and is currently serving a three-year sentence for alleging that the president’s brother had ordered the execution of surrendering rebels.

Fonseka is also serving a concurrent 30-month sentence handed down after a court martial found him guilty of irregularities when he was army chief.

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