Thirty month RI: MR ready to review decision if SF appeals



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Government won’t rescind the  ruling by the Second Court Martial or ongoing judicial proceedings due to political pressure


by Shamindra Ferdinando


President Mahinda Rajapaksa is willing to review the Second Court Martial decision to sentence former Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka, MP, to 30 months rigorous imprisonment if the DNA leader appeals to the President.


Responding to a query by The Island, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa yesterday said that the President was ready for a re-evaluation of the recommendation of the Second Court Martial on the basis of a plea by MP Fonseka.


The Convening Officer of the Second Court Martial President Rajapaksa, as the Confirming Authority, yesterday ratified the ruling that MP Fonseka be sentenced to 30 months RI. The former Chief of Defence Staff was charged in accordance with provisions in the Army Act under Section 109 (C) on disgraceful conduct.


 


 


Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said that Fonseka’s conviction wasn’t a political issue and it couldn’t be resolved by protests or intervention by third parties.


The endorsement of the Second Court Martial recommendation came amidst a JVP-led protest campaign to pressure President Rajapaksa to release MP Fonseka.


Plantation Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe, MP told The Island that the Opposition couldn’t mobilise international opinion against the government over Fonseka’s issue. Referring to the forthcoming meeting in Geneva, called by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, following representations made by UNP MP Jayalath Jayewardene, on behalf of MP Fonseka, Minister Samarasinghe said that the issue couldn’t be resolved at such a forum.


Ministers Samarasinghe and Nimal Siripala de Silva will represent the government at the IPU. The UNP and the DNA will be represented by MP Jayewardena and Tiran Alles, respectively.


The former Human Rights Minister alleged that the Opposition was only interested in making an issue of Gen. Fonseka’s conviction for political gain.


General Fonseka has been indicted in the Colombo High Court with the same offence for w which the Second Court Martial sentenced him to 30 years RI.


Fonseka is also indicted in High Court for harbouring army deserters in the run-up to the January 26 presidential election and alleging that Defence Secretary Rajapaksa ordered that surrendering LTTE leaders be shot dead during the final battle on the Vanni east front.


UPFA sources told The Island that an understanding could be reached regarding judicial action on the basis of a personal appeal, though the government wouldn’t give in to external pressure. Sources pointed out that those who had backed Fonseka at the presidential election couldn’t even launch a common campaign in support of him.


Recently Mrs. Anoma Fonseka requested chief prelates of the Asgiriya and Malwatte Chapter to intervene on her husband’s behalf. She was accompanied by a delegation of DNA activists as part the JVP/DNA efforts to mobilise public support against what JVP General Secretary Tilvin Silva called the persecution of a war hero for challenging President Rajapaksa at the January 26 election.


Sources said that a few days before the then Vanni Commander Major General Jagath Jayasuriya succeeded Army Commander Fonseka, he had survived an attempt to court martial him on a charge of impropriety. Although the targeted officer’s adjutant was arrested, assaulted and forced to implicate Major General Jayasuriya, the government thwarted the move by promoting Jayasuriya as the Commander of the Army.


Sources said that Major General Parakrama Pannipitiya would have most probably succeeded General Fonseka had he not been disgraced by an inquiry into procurement of an additional vehicle allegedly in violation of tender procedures. Sources said the UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, shortly after the liberation of the East in mid 2007, had ridiculed Pannipitiya by alleging that he wasn’t conversant with map reading.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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