Fonseka loses appeal as top court rules court martial legal

Colombo, Jan 25 (PTI) Sri Lanka''s detained former armychief Sarath Fonseka today lost an appeal to retain hisparliamentary seat, as the supreme court ruled that the courtmartial which sentenced him to a 30-month rigorous jail termfor corruption in defence deals was legal.

The five-member bench of the Supreme Court today ruledthat the court martial is a court accepted under the SriLankan constitution.

It ruled that a court martial verdict in Septemberlast year which found him guilty of arms procurement offencesmeant that he was no longer qualified to be a member ofparliament.

59-year-old Fonseka was convicted by two militarycourt martials last year following his entry into politicsafter serving as the country''s top general.

He had petitioned to appeal to the court challengingthe first court martial decision which stripped his rank andpension. The court of appeal directed the query to supremecourt to decide whether the court martial is constitutional.

Fonseka was later imprisoned by another court martialfor 30 months jail term and he lost his parliamentary seat dueto the conviction.

He had contested the April 8, 2010 general electionsfrom Colombo district and won a seat on the ticket of the DNAthat he led.

The retired general''s brief stint as an MP came to asudden end in the wake of the 30-month imprisonment forcorruption in defence deals on October 1, 2010.

The ruling was later approved by President MahindaRajapaksa in his capacity as the commander in chief of thearmed forces. He was sent to jail for alleged corruption indefence deals during his tenure as the army chief.

The former four-star General, the key military figurewho led the armed forces to a remarkable victory over theseparatist Tamil Tigers in May 2009, fell out with his formercommander in chief, President Rajapaksa and ended upchallenging him at the January 2010 polls.

Within two weeks of losing the election, Fonseka wasarrested and tried by military courts.

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