Sri Lanka HC grants bail to Fonseka

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Sri Lanka
Colombo, May 18: Jailed former Sri Lankan Army Chief Sarath Fonseka was today granted bail by the High Court here in a case for harbouring military deserters, ahead of an imminent presidential pardon for him.

Fonseka, 61, was in detention since early February 2010 soon after he had unsuccessfully challenged President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the snap presidential election of January 2010. Rajapaksa is expected to free Fonseka within the next few days, Fonseka's wife Anoma told reporters yesterday.

The presidential pardon would set him free from jail where he is serving a three-year term on a conviction in a different case. 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.

The former army chief 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.

PTI

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