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Sri Lanka’s ex-army chief says his detention ‘unlawful’


Colombo : Sri Lanka’s former army commander General Sarath Fonseka who was elected to parliament on an opposition ticket said Thursday he was a victim of unlawful detention and called for safeguards in democracy.

Fonseka, who is under military custody on allegations of conspiracy against the government and is facing two court martial trials, said at the inaugural session of parliament that it “should ensure freedom from unlawful detention”.

“Parliament also should ensure that democracy is safeguarded, human rights are protected and the freedom of movement is ensured,” said Fonseka who was elected as candidate of the Marxist-backed Democratic National Alliance said.

“I have been subject to injustice,” Fonseka said before being escorted back to detention at the navy headquarters.

The ex-army chief was arrested Feb 8, less than two weeks after he unsuccessfully challenged President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the presidential elections.

Earlier Thursday one of Rajapaksa’s brothers was selected as the new speaker of parliament, a day after official results confirmed a solid victory of the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA).

Chamal Rajapaksa, 67, the president’s older brother and a former minister of ports and aviation, was unanimously elected in the inaugural session.

The president’s younger brother, Basil, his son Namal and cousin Nirupama Rajapaksa are also among the 144 UPFA parliamentarians in the 225-seat assembly.

The elections were held April 8, but due to a re-poll in two districts following allegations of malpractices the final results were released only Wednesday.

Rajapaksa’s UPFA obtained 60 percent of the vote while the main opposition United National Party (UNP) led by former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe received only 29.3 percent.

The UPFA won by the biggest margin since 1977 and the victory was largely seen as a vote to Rajapaksa in appreciation for ending the 26-year-old civil war against the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).