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Last updated: 23 February, 2010 - Published 11:35 GMT
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Fonseka to reamain in custody

The Supreme Court in Sri Lanka has refused to order the release of the defeated presidential candidate, General Sarath Fonseka, from military detention for the time being.

Sarath Fonseka during the election campaign
General Sarath Fonseka on the election camapaign

It was responding to a petition lodged by General Fonseka’s wife.

The government is set to continue holding the losing contender and put him before a military court – a process the retired General rejects outright, saying that because he’s now a civilian, military law doesn’t cover him.

two other requests

For now, Sarath Fonseka will remain incarcerated at the navy headquarters. That’s the message from the Supreme Court judges, who have refused the petitioners’ request that he be set free immediately.

But a lawyer for General Fonseka, Chrishmal Warnasuriya told the BBC that the court had upheld two of the petitioners’ other requests.

The petition requested that General Fonseka’s safety and security be guaranteed and that he have broader access to his family, colleagues and lawyers and to his medication.

In two months’s time the court will consider the petition fully, looking at broader allegations that Sarath Fonseka’s detention is illegal and that a whole series of his rights are being infringed.

No formal charges

General Fonseka’s situation looks bleak. The government still hasn’t framed formal charges. But the military spokesman Maj-Gen Prasad Samarasinghe told the BBC it would finish amassing evidence against him “within a very short time” and would then set up a military court to try him – something which seems set to happen before his wife’s petition is reconsidered.

Officials keep saying Sarath Fonseka worked to destabilise the government. He denies this.

He would like to contest the legislative elections in early April and may now have to do this from detention.

At the same time, the coalition that supported his presidential candidacy has split up into several blocs.

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