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Last updated: 25 February, 2010 - Published 14:53 GMT
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Fonseka to be charged under civil laws

 Minister  G L  Peiris
Minister G L Peiris
The Sri Lankan government has announced a series of new charges which it says it will level against the defeated presidential candidate, Sarath Fonseka, under civil laws, in addition to military charges it’s already preparing. None of the charges have yet been formalised.

General Fonseka’s colleagues deny the charges and have confirmed that he’s to lead a new political alliance to contest April’s legislative elections.

Sri Lanka has already attracted international criticism for arresting Sarath Fonseka and preparing to court-martial him, something Britain says “has done nothing to ease tensions” on the crisis-hit island. Now, though, it’s preparing to go further.

A government spokesman, G.L. Peiris, told the BBC it will also charge him under civil laws, alleging that he helped his relatives make illicit profits, created disaffection in the armed forces, harboured deserters, and broke foreign exchange laws.

A close associate of General Fonseka, Tiran Alles, described all the charges as “bogus” and said: “We point-blank reject any of them”.

The former army chief remains in detention but the Supreme Court has given him the go-ahead to file nomination papers to contest the parliamentary election.

He now heads a new front of parties and other groups, the Democratic National Alliance.

Tiran Alles
Tiran Alles

Alles admitted he was disappointed that another alliance, headed by the largest opposition party, is to stand separately even though it supported General Fonseka’s presidential bid.

Political symbols are all-important in Sri Lanka and the United National Party was keen to fight once more under its traditional symbol, the elephant.

The current parliament saw a flood of defections from its ranks to the government side and many in the opposition fear that more will follow if the governing alliance repeats its victory.

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