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Last updated: 01 March, 2010 - Published 13:24 GMT
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Fonseka political prisoner - former CJ
A newspaper reporting the arrest of Gen Fonseka (file photo)
Former CJ says the arrest of Gen Fonseka is illegal under the constitution and international law
The former chief justice of Sri Lanka has described the former military chief, Gen Sarath Fonseka, as a political prisoner.

Launching an online petition calling for the release of Gen Fonseka, former CJ Sarath Nanda Silva said his arrest is illegal according to the constitution and the international law.

Mr. Silva was the first to add his name to the online petition in freesarathfonseka website.

"With authority I can say that Gen Sarath Fonseka is a political prisoner," the controversial former CJ said.

Court martial

"There are certain rules and regulations to arrest or detain a person according to the law in this country. But now all those avenues are blocked. I think the international community might see Sri Lanka as a lawless country."

However, Mr. Silva as the CJ once ruled that Sri Lanka does not have to follow international conventions as they are a 'threat to the soverignty' of the country.

Former CJ Sarath N Silva
"I think the international community might see Sri Lanka as a lawless country"

A bench chaired by Mr. Silva in 2006 ruled that although Sri Lanka has signed the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Covenant has not been incorporated into the constitution.

Addressing opposition political leaders and others gathered at the Gen Fonseka's political office in Colombo on Monday, he said Sri Lanka was the first country in the region to establish the Supreme Court in 1802.

Accusing unnamed law experts of trying to justify the arrest of Gen Fonseka, the former CJ said, that the detention was illegal as any person arrested should be brought to a court of law within 24 hours.

The government recently announced that the former Chief of Defence Staff would face charges in a civil court alleging that he helped his relatives make illicit profits, created disaffection in the armed forces, harboured deserters, and broke foreign exchange laws, in addition to military charges.

Human Rights Commission

However, Mr. Silva argued that the military law, which also comes under the country's constitution and international law, does not apply to the retired general.

Journalists attending the launch of the website say that the UNF leadership was conspicuous by their absence.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission (SLHRC) has recommended that investigations should be carried out by those who are unbiased towards the defeated presidential candidate.

The recommendations handed over to the defence secretary have been made by the SLHRC after visiting the detained military leader in Sri Lanka navy headquarters.

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