Lanka Supreme Court allows Fonseka to question legality of his arrest

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Colombo, Feb.12 (ANI): A three-judge bench of Sri Lanka's Supreme Court on Friday granted legal representatives of arrested former army chief General (retired) Sarath Fonseka permission to proceed on a case that questions the violation of their client's fundamental rights and the legality of his arrest on Monday night (February 8) by the government.

The court order was given despite strong objections from the Mahinda Rajapaksa Government, which was represented by the country's Attorney General Mohan Peiris.

The court ordered the state to file objections within a month and said it would consider providing interim relief to General (retired) Fonseka on February 23.

The order was issued in the midst of unprecedented security, as thousands of protesters had clashed with a pro-government group on Wednesday.

Riot police were on standby and hundreds of police sealed off streets leading to the court complex.Elite Special Task Force personnel were seen with automatic riles lining the streets leading to the court complex.

"I have one hundred percent confidence in the courts. I expect justice from this court," said Anoma Fonseka, the wife of General Fonseka, after the court hearing.

Karu Jayasuria,Deputy Leader of the opposition United National Party (UNP) said he expected the apex court to be impartial in safeguarding the fundamental rights of General (retired) Fonseka.

Meanwhile, hundreds of lawyers poured out of the courts to participate in a silent protest this afternoon. Police did not interfere.

On Thursday, the Asian Human Rights Commission warned that General (retired) Fonseka was being deprived of "due process" because his case was being handled in a military rather than a civilian court.

On the same day, the Indian Government also said in a statement that it expected the Sri Lankan Government to follow the due process of law, and added that it would remain in touch with Colombo on the matter.

"We have been in touch with the government of Sri Lanka about the detention of Retired General Sarath Fonseka. As a friend and neighbour, we trust that due processes of law will be observed in democratic Sri Lanka in this matter," MEA spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said in a statement.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also told President Rajapaksa to respect due process of law in the Fonseka's case.

Anoma Fonseka had moved the Sri Lankan Supreme Court over fears that her husband's life was in danger.

Her petition also challenged the move to try General (retired) Fonseka under the Army Act, saying that he had retired from the Army on June 15, 2009.

The Sri Lankan government has in the meanwhile accused both the US and Norway of helping General (retired) Fonseka during the presidential elections, which they have denied. (ANI)

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