Former Sri Lankan Army Chief Fonseka to be freed soon: wife

Sri Lanka
Colombo, May 18: Jailed former Sri Lankan Army Chief Gen Sarath Fonseka, who led the successful battle against the Tamil Tigers, could be released from prison soon, his wife said today, a day after meeting President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

"I met the President at the residence of Tiran Alles. It was a very friendly and cordial meeting. This has given me hopes for his imminent release," Anoma Fonseka said. Lawmaker Alles negotiated the release of 61-year-old Fonseka, who is currently serving the second of his jail terms, having already completed a 30-month sentence for misconduct in the Army procurement procedures.

He got six months reprieve for good behaviour. Fonseka, who led the Army to victory against LTTE in the war which crushed the Tamil separatist outfit, fell out with his commander-in-chief Rajapaksa after war victory.

He unsuccessfully challenged Rajapaksa in the presidential election of January 2010 as the main opposition candidate. He was arrested and convicted by both military and civil courts and stripped off military ranks in August 2010.

Served with a 30 month jail term beginning September 2010, Fonseka was convicted again last November for breaching national security and handed a three year sentence. Rajapaksa ignored mass protests for his release including international pressure.

A US green card holder, Fonseka was named a political prisoner in the US State Department's 2010 human rights report. His lawyers said he is expected to be at the court tomorrow in connection with his third court case.

He has applied for bail in the case where he was accused of harbouring military deserters.


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