South Asia

Sri Lanka's Sarath Fonseka 'expects jail sentence'

Sarath Fonseka 19 Aug 2010
Image caption Sarath Fonseka was once a close ally of President Rajapaksa

Former Sri Lankan armed forces chief Sarath Fonseka says he expects he will soon be given a jail sentence.

A military court last week sentenced him to be stripped of his rank as a general and dishonourably discharged from the armed forces.

Mr Fonseka, 59, said he expected to receive a jail sentence from a second military court trying him on charges of corruption.

He said he believed the verdict was already planned.

The former general spoke to reporters at the Sri Lankan parliament, to which he was elected in April and which he can attend under military escort.

Mr Fonseka said he would appeal against the first court-martial verdict - which found him guilty of dabbling in politics while still military chief - although he played down the sentence removing his rank, medals and pension.

"Whatever I did for the country, I didn't expect anything in return," he said.

"When I served the country for 40 years, I did not expect medals. I did not expect promotions. I did not expect money. I didn't work on a contract."

'No rule of law'

Mr Fonseka accused Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the government of harassing opposition politicians and he alleged that there was no rule of law on the island.

"They are trying to create a lawless situation, lawlessness in the country," he said.

"That is not in the long-term interest of the country. If there is no law and order in the country, people are not safe."

There are still several other legal cases pending against the former military chief.

The government says he was planning a coup and assassinations earlier this year. It says the law will take its course.

Sarath Fonseka, once very close to President Rajapaksa and his powerful brothers, says he is being victimised for daring to challenge Mr Rajapaksa in presidential elections.

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