Court martial judges postpone hearing of one Fonseka case indefinitely

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Colombo, Mar. 17 (ANI): The court martial of former Sri Lanka army chief, General (retired) Sarath Fonseka, in connection with his decision to award a lucrative arms contract to a firm headed by his son in law, has been postponed indefinitely.

Court martial proceedings related to another charge - that of waging war against the state and the launching of a military-backed coup against the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa - will, however, continue, said an Al Jazeera report.

General (retired) Fonseka was due to appear before a military tribunal on Wednesday, but the judges gave no reason for postponing the trial.

News reports said the three armed services officers presiding over the tribunal planned to ask President Rajapaksa whether they should combine the charges with another case against General (retired) Fonseka that began a day earlier.

On Tuesday, General (retired) Fonseka said that he did not recognize the jurisdictional authority of the military tribunal. He also claimed that the cases lodged against him were malafide and had no basis or foundation.

He also said that the presiding panel of three officers was biased because it included two men whom he had previously disciplined when he was head of the army.

The panel's third member was a close relative of the current army commander who initiated the court-martial, his lawyer added.

Sri Lanka's opposition and human rights groups have accused the Rajapaksa Government of retaliating against General (retired) Fonseka, who had dared to challenge Rajapaksa's bid for re-election.

On Tuesday, police clashed with Fonseka supporters at a protest calling for his release in the town of Pandura, south of Colombo.

Opposition groups said at least 14 people were arrested and two others hospitalised after being beaten, with police firing tear gas to break up the demonstration.

Police have made no official comment on the incident. (ANI)

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