Sri Lankan president ratifies ex-army chief’s dishonorable discharge


Colombo : Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa Saturday ratified a ruling by a court martial to dishonorably discharge the ex-army commander who has been found guilty of involvement in politics while serving as the army chief.

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A statement from the army said Rajapaksa, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, confirmed that General Sarath Fonseka had been cashiered from the army as recommended by the court martial.

The move would mean that the ex-army chief who spearheaded the campaign against Tamil rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) leading to their defeat in May 2009 would lose his rank as general and other benefits, including his pension.

The ex-army chief’s wife, Anoma Fonseka, said they hope to appeal against the decision of the court martial in a civil court, but do not hope to appeal to the President for a special pardon.

Fonseka after the completion of the military operations last year fell out with the president and entered politics, going on to contest the presidential elections last January against Rajapaksa.

Two weeks after Fonseka’s defeat he was arrested and two separate court martials were appointed to try him, one to probe his political activities while serving as the commander and the other about irregular tender procedures.

Fonseka, who entered the army in 1970, was appointed commander in December 2005 and four months later he survived a suicide bomb attack by the rebels. Later he carried out the final phase of the military operations to crush the rebels in the north and eastern provinces.